The Brainerd community of Chattanooga was devastated in 2016 when a school bus overturned on a winding road and crashed into a tree, killing six children and injuring most of the 37 on board.
Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery III said he didn’t appreciate what he said were grieving families being approached for lawsuits even as they were at a funeral home making arrangements to bury their loved ones. children.
Slatery sued a Texas law firm, the Witherspoon Law Group of Dallas, for unauthorized practice of law and violation of Tennessee consumer protection law. He alleged that representatives of the firm – who were not lawyers – contacted grieving families at a local funeral home to seek their litigation.
The trial began Nov. 9 in Hamilton County Chancery Court. The jury returned a verdict Nov. 12 in favor of the State of Tennessee and against Witherspoon Law Group, owner Nuru Witherspoon and law firm representatives Glenn Smith and Alphonso McClendon. On December 9, Chancellor Pamela Fleenor issued a judgment for $96,000.
“These individuals — who did not even live or work in Tennessee — preyed on the families of the victims during the darkest days of their grief,” Slatery said in a written statement Wednesday. “We appreciate the unanimous decision of the jury in this case and our team of attorneys who have worked to hold the defendants accountable over the past five years.”
The firm acknowledged receipt but did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment.
“It should send a message that misrepresenting yourself and attempting to practice law when you’re not allowed here will not be tolerated,” Slatery said. From the start, we were determined to bring this to justice. We will do the same again if we are faced with this type of behavior.