Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

May 10, 2013

Three firms chastised by federal judge for over billing Lon Morris College

Ben Tinsley
Jacksonville Daily Progress

TYLER — A federal bankruptcy judge has financially penalized law firm McKool Smith nearly $40,000 for allegedly overbilling the Lon Morris College bankruptcy estate over 95 attorney hours in its final bill to the dissolved institution.

In orders handed down since Monday, Federal Bankruptcy Judge Bill Parker also reprimanded Ameribid LLC Auctioneers and law firm Webb & Associates for overbilling  –  but the amounts are nowhere near as egregious.

According to court documents, McKool Smith was docked nearly 95.6 attorney hours totaling $37,596.57.

The judge also awarded the firm a final paycheck in the amount of $437,100.13 for the institution's combined pay and expenses.

Neither Dawn Ragan, the liquidating trustee for the Lon Morris College bankruptcy estate  nor Houston attorney Hugh Ray III from the Texas offices of McKool Smith returned requests for comment Thursday.

This was the second time Ray's firm has been penalized for overbilling Lon Morris. McKool was penalized $14,000 for over 30 man hours of alleged LMC over-billing in January.

Parker reprimand of Ameribid LLC Auctioneers was significantly less.

Ameribid was docked nine senior attorney hours totaling $3,150, but was awarded a final paycheck in the amount of $40,958.50, court records show.

The lightest offender was Webb and Associates, who were docked 15 hours totaling  $310 but was awarded a final combined paycheck of $26,619.60, court records show.

These were all the last bills that will be submitted by these companies to the estate, records show.

“This is a final order,” the judge wrote in his rulings.