March 21, 2024  | By Morgan Smith

McCathern’s Houston team recently obtained two victories on behalf of clients against Houston-area real estate developer Ali Choudhri. The cases follow previous wins for our clients against Mr. Choudhri in the summer and fall of 2022.

Patten v. Choudhri
CAUSE NO. 2017-43146

Following a nearly seven-year litigation ordeal, on February 20, 2024, McCathern Houston obtained a jury verdict in favor of client Ashley Patten and against local real estate developer Ali Choudhri. The jury’s verdict awarded Patten $368,857.00, reflecting his attorneys’ fees incurred. The verdict followed a prior Court Order in October 2023 awarding Patten over $67,237.00 in damages arising from Choudhri’s unlawful attempts to collect rent and assess late fees on a rental property that Choudhri did not own at the time.

In 2014, Patten was the unknowing tenant of the property which was foreclosed on by a bank following the owner’s failure to pay the mortgage. Pursuant to a lease agreement, Choudhri acted as Patten’s landlord but failed to inform Patten of the foreclosure or the changes in ownership of the property thereafter. In a stunning display, in 2017, Choudhri sued Patten for additional rent payments while assessing late fees and additional damages under the lease agreement. Patten countersued to recover rent payments previously made while also seeking statutory damages for Choudhri’s false demands for additional rent payments and late fees.

McCathern Houston’s trial team of Rodney Drinnon, David Clark, and Simone Nunez secured the Court Orders in Patten’s favor, in addition to the jury verdict awarding Patten his fees incurred. McCathern Houston also successfully defeated all of Choudhri’s claims and causes of action.

Galleria 2425 v. Drinnon (TCPA)
CAUSE NO. 2023-22748

On February 22, 2024, McCathern Houston obtained a Final Judgment in favor of its Co-Managing Partner, Rodney Drinnon, following a successful motion under the Texas Citizens Participation Act (TCPA), Texas’ version of an anti-SLAPP law. The Court awarded Drinnon over $277,450, including $63,725.00 in sanctions against the offending party, Galleria 2425 Owner, LLC, an entity wholly owned by Ali Choudhri, a Houston-area real estate developer.

In November 2023, Galleria 2425 improperly joined Drinnon as a defendant in an ongoing lawsuit and asserted unfounded claims against him seeking $50,000,000 in damages. Drinnon successfully defeated these claims while pointing out that Galleria 2425 and its owners sought to unlawfully chill Drinnon’s exercise of the right to petition – specifically to prevent Drinnon from doing his job on behalf of his clients, Azeemah Zaheer and Naissance Galleria, LLC, who were in an ongoing dispute with Galleria 2425 and Choudhri.

Immediately after Galleria 2425 filed its baseless lawsuit, McCathern Houston prepared a Motion to Dismiss all claims with Drinnon with prejudice, pursuant to the TCPA. On January 2, 2024, the Court heard arguments on Drinnon’s Motion to Dismiss. During the January 11, 2024 hearing, Drinnon was cross-examined by Choudhri (acting pro se in his individual capacity) wherein he testified that “our job [as lawyers] is to do the job, not get sued for it.” After considering Drinnon’s testimony, the testimony of other witnesses and the consideration of evidence, the Court agreed and granted Drinnon’s Motion to Dismiss and requested briefing on the scope of his fees and damages incurred.

The February 22, 2024 Final Judgment reflects the Court’s findings of Drinnon’s damages. The Court expressly determined that Galleria 2425 brought the lawsuit “for an improper purpose” to “dissuade [Drinnon] from representing parties adverse to Galleria 2425 in an attempt to prohibit the exercise of his right to petition.” As a result, the Court took the extraordinary step of sanctioning Galleria 2425 to deter it “from bringing similar actions that violate the TCPA,” while awarding Drinnon the right to recover his attorney’s fees incurred, along with post-judgment interest.

In addition to Rodney Drinnon, McCathern Houston attorneys Danielle Chester and David Clark participated in the drafting of the successful TCPA Motion to Dismiss and the presentation of evidence during oral arguments at the hearings on Drinnon’s motion.