Effort to stop O’Quinn car sale denied

Judge denies woman’s effort to stop O’Quinn car sale
Allan Turner
August 9, 2010
Houston Chronicle
Darla Lexington’s effort to stop the sale of almost $5 million in rare cars collected by her longtime companion Houston lawyer John O’Quinn screeched to a halt today when a county probate judge gave this weekend’s auction a green light.

Judge Mike Wood’s ruling was good news for managers of O’Quinn’s estate and the charitable foundation he created. Lawyers for those entities on Friday argued that a massive debt, placed by a knowledgeable source at about $90 million, could go into default if the cars were not sold.

Lexington’s lawyer argued the five cars, including three Corvettes, a rare French Talbot-Lago and a one-of-a-kind Mercedes Benz, had been gifts from O’Quinn and should be exempted from the sale.

Lexington had been O’Quinn’s companion for more than a decade, and, at the time of the lawyer’s death in a car wreck last October, the pair had collected more than 800 vintage and rare vehicles.

Lexington testified that the couple planned to open a rare car museum in Houston.

Since O’Quinn’s death, however, roughly 300 of the cars owned by O’Quinn have been sold. Dale Jefferson, attorney for O’Quinn’s estate, said most of the cars eventually will be sold.

Lexington’s attorney Jimmy Williamson said he was “exceptionally disappointed” in Wood’s decision, although he is optimistic money from the cars’ sale can be recovered when he challenges the will in court.

Lexington, he said, has been informed of the judge’s denial of the requested injunction and is “taking it hard.”

Williamson said it likely will not be possible to appeal Wood’s ruling, but that it is researching law on the issue.

“John wanted to take care of Darla,” Williamson said. “He wanted her to have those cars.”

Jefferson said he is “pleased that Judge Wood followed the law and the evidence, which, in turn, allowed the executor to follow the clear terms of John O’Quinn’s will.

Jefferson said O’Quinn’s will clearly stated that he was single and that he intended his wealth to go to charity.

Although Lexington was not a beneficiary of the will, he said, she received about $2 million from O’Quinn’s life insurance policy.