Texas legal blogs speak out on O’Quinn ruling

Judge Denies Request to Enjoin Auction of Classic Cars From Prominent Lawyer’s Estate
John O’Quinn’s longtime companion claimed he gave the cars to her
Brenda Sapino Jeffreys
August 11, 2010
Texas Lawyer

In an order Monday, Harris County, Texas, Probate Court No. 2 Judge Mike Wood denied Darla Lexington’s request for a temporary injunction that would stop this week’s auction of five classic cars from the late John M. O’Quinn’s collection. Wood found that Lexington, O’Quinn’s longtime companion, failed at a hearing on Aug. 6 to establish a “probable right to recover ownership of the five automobiles at issue.”

In an application for a temporary injunction, Lexington alleged the “five one-of-a-kind, unique and irreplaceable cars” are among 28 cars she claims O’Quinn gave to her.

O’Quinn, the prominent plaintiffs lawyer at Houston’s O’Quinn Law Firm who was killed in an automobile accident on Oct. 29, 2009, was a noted collector of classic cars.

The five cars set to be auctioned on Thursday and Friday in Pebble Beach, Calif., are a 1938 Talbot Lago, a 1936 Mercedes and three vintage Chevrolet Corvettes.

Lexington sought the temporary injunction under Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code §65.011(5). Lexington’s attorney, Jimmy Williamson of Williamson & Rusnak of Houston, did not immediately return a telephone message left at his office.

O’Quinn’s estate and the John M. O’Quinn Foundation, the beneficiary of O’Quinn’s estate, opposed Lexington’s request for the temporary injunction on the ground that Lexington does not have written proof that O’Quinn gave her the cars, according to their joint opposition filed Aug. 5. In a statement, Robert Wilson III, the president of the foundation, writes the foundation is “deeply gratified” by Wood’s ruling. Wilson noted that in his 2008 will, O’Quinn “made clear that all of his property — including his car collection — was to go to his charitable Foundation.”

Kathy Patrick, a partner in Gibbs & Bruns in Houston who represents the foundation, says Wood’s ruling Monday is “tremendously important” because Lexington “brought out her best evidence and the court found it didn’t meet the standard to grant an injunction.”

Dale Jefferson, a partner in Houston’s Martin, Disiere, Jefferson & Wisdom who represents the estate, says, “We’re pleased that Judge Wood based his ruling not on what John O’Quinn has allegedly said, but on what John O’Quinn actually did. Although John’s unfortunate death has silenced this great trial lawyer, O’Quinn can still speak for himself through his will.”

Jefferson says the five cars at issue are valued at about $4.85 million. He says about 300 of the 860 cars in O’Quinn’s collection have already been sold.

This article first appeared on Tex Parte Blog.