by Julia E. Romero Peter, Esq.
In June, Dish Network petitioned a district court in Harris County, Texas for confirmation of an arbitration award for over $12.5 million resulting from damages caused by its former attorney Ross Wooten’s negligent acts; notably with respect to his handling of discovery. While an attorney at Houston law firm T. Wade Welch & Associates, Wooten represented Dish Network in a multi-million dollar federal lawsuit filed by Russian Media Group, LLC against Dish Network.
In 2003, Russian Media filed claims of interference of contract against Dish Network with respect to its contracts with Comcast for Russian-language programming in Baltimore and Philadelphia.
In the Russian Media case, the court issued a hefty sanctions order against Dish Network in 2007. Court documents assert that the magistrate judge in that case “entered ‘death penalty sanctions’ against [Dish Network], not only defaulting [Dish Network] on liability, but also preventing [Dish Network] from challenging Russian Media Group’s damages model.”
Dish Network attributed the sanctions to Wooten’s negligence. They claimed that the court imposed the sanctions for insufficient responses to discovery requests they never knew about, because Wooten never informed them. Among other complaints regarding Dish Network’s responses, Russian Media claimed that Wooten’s production was not responsive.
Dish Network found out about the order in March of 2008 when another attorney at the firm notified them. Wooten promptly left the firm. And not surprisingly, Dish Network terminated the firm.