Kristen A. Algert, Eric Robertson
The authors are with Ausley, Algert, Robertson & Flores LLP, Austin.
From: Kristen A. Algert and Eric Robertson
Re: Divorce and Custody Claims
Sylvie Bass asked our firm to represent her in a divorce case. Our legal assistant responsible for handling intake asked Sylvie some questions and checked conflicts to make sure we had not already spoken to her husband, Michael Bass. After confirming that we had no conflicts, the legal assistant obtained a few general facts from Sylvie, explained the firm’s consultation fee, and scheduled a meeting with us.
Prior to our meeting, we reviewed our legal assistant’s summary of the facts, along with a summary of what an Internet search had revealed about Sylvie and Michael. When Sylvie arrived at our office, we knew that she was the mother of two young children and that she was married to a driven, high-
powered, sometimes socially inept executive. The Internet search revealed that Michael’s critics called him “ruthless” for his cost-cutting measures and layoffs at GyneTech. Until
recently, GyneTech board members and shareholders were among his biggest fans due to rising stock values and the development of a new cancer drug that promised to help those suffering from late-stage cancer.
In recent weeks, however, Michael has had his share of problems. He was suspended with pay by GyneTech’s board because a Wall Street Journal article revealed problems with GyneTech’s cancer drug trial and because of the suspicious circumstances surrounding a whistleblower’s death. He was fired by GyneTech’s board after it became public that he was accused of an inappropriate relationship with an independent contractor of GyneTech's. He was sued by shareholders for securities fraud. And he was sued by drug-trial participants for fraud, negligence, reckless endangerment, and product liability. Michael now works for GyneTech’s competitor, MedaStar, and has sued his former employer for breach of his employment contract. GyneTech has counter-sued Michael for fraud, breach of fiduciary relationship, breach of contract, and theft of trade secrets. For all those reasons, we recognized that if we chose to represent Sylvie, the divorce case would be messy and complicated.