Louisiana Net Worth – James Branton

In September 1997, James Branton filed a lawsuit against Charles Fox, his former counsel, in the 22nd Judicial District Court of Mississippi. Fox hired Branton in 1995 to assist him in handling the partition of his community property. He paid Branton $70,000 in attorney fees. But Branton resigned from his position in August 1997. Afterwards, he alleged that he was wrongly advised to pay legal interest on community property equaling the amount of the payment he made. The court dismissed these claims.

According to Dr. Fox, Branton misrepresented the law regarding the calculation of legal interest on community property. He also argued that he was not properly advised to prepay alimony. However, the court dismissed both of these claims, finding that Branton was not liable for a failure to carry the burden of proof in the judgment.

Besides a lack of a sufficient loss, the court also found that Branton did not act as a reasonable lawyer. A 121-page deposition was held in his attorney’s office. But it did not appear on the bills, which he submitted to the court. Moreover, the circuit courts disagreed about the date of the judgment. This meant that the court would not know the exact amounts that were ordered by the judge.

At the conclusion of the case, the court did not fix the judgment amount, but the court did issue written reasons for the decision. Nevertheless, Branton did claim that he was owed attorney fees. His lawyers at the Phelps Dunbar firm represented him in his reconvention and in his legal malpractice suit. They also handled the open account and reconvention cases, defending against the open account claims.

On January 26, 2001, the court issued a judgment, denying the legal malpractice and unpaid attorney fees claims. Moreover, the court did not determine the total amount of the judgment, but ruled that the amounts were pro-rated. It also rejected Branton’s other claims for unpaid attorney fees, finding that he did not meet his burden of proof.