September 16, 2022  | By Morgan Smith

McCathern Houston Senior Counsel David Clark recently secured monetary sanctions against an individual after they filed a groundless pleading based on what amounted to be the fabricated existence of a “videotape”. Such frivolous lawsuits waste the time of our elected judges and disrespect the integrity of our legal system. While it is extremely rare for a judge to award sanctions, securing such a ruling highlights the lack of merit regarding the claims plead.

Houston Attorney David L. Clark
Houston Attorney David L. Clark

In March of 2022, an individual filed suit against a popular Houston bar and its owners. She accused them of recording and distributing a video of her engaged in a salacious act in 2020. The plaintiff made this claim after her jealous former paramour violently assaulted her, citing the alleged video as the reason for his attack. The plaintiff sought damages for being recorded without consent, the unlawful disclosure of the purported video, the continued harassment, the assault, and the resulting emotional distress. But there was one problem: the video did not exist.

The plaintiff initially hired a well-known Houston lawyer to represent her, but he soon realized it was an unfounded claim and dropped the case. She then hired a law firm out of Dallas that filed the frivolous lawsuit. This new firm eventually admitted to Mr. Clark and his clients that they did not have the alleged video, that they had never looked for it, and that the plaintiff had never seen it. Mr. Clark filed a motion for summary judgment and a request for attorney’s fees and sanctions.

The plaintiff’s lawyers filed a Notice of Nonsuit on August 12, 2022 which dismissed the case only three days before a response to the summary judgment was due, but the damage they caused was already done. Following a hearing on August 22nd, a Harris County District Court judge awarded Mr. Clark’s clients sanctions and attorneys’ fees against the plaintiff for $14,808.59, buttressing our client’s reputation as a safe bar operation and ensuring they were not left with the financial repercussions of this frivolous suit.

In regards to the case, Mr. Clark stated that “We could have allowed the plaintiff to quietly dismiss her case. However, following substantive consultations with our clients, we recognized that seeking an order awarding sanctions was necessary not only to help make our clients whole, but to also deter future lawsuits based on false allegations. We are pleased with the Court’s ruling and will continue to fight for all of our clients’ rights.”