3:26am PT by Eriq Gardner
TV Lawyer Sues CBS For Failing to Refer Him Clients
Hell hath no fury like a TV lawyer scorned.
Thomas Corea, an attorney based in Dallas, is suing CBS after the network's local affiliate there invited him to host the live call-in TV show, Ask the Lawyer with Tom Corea. The problem? Corea says the station didn't forward all viewer calls to his law office, which he says cost him $1.4 million in missed business opportunities.
Corea is representing his own law firm in this lawsuit. He evidently never got the message that lawyers who represent themselves have fools for clients.
According to the complaint filed in Dallas County Court, Corea was approached by CBS' KTVT for the noontime show, which he allegedly agreed to host, provided that calls be answered by a live person and then forwarded to the his law office answering service. Corea says that this was a "deal breaker" in negotiations for the show, as he was concerned with "any arrangement that could be regarded as any form of solicitation of legal representation."
Looking to obey professional ethics, or so the business-minded TV lawyer claims, Corea says he needed more than just a call sheet list of names and phone numbers.
The first show generated 1,200 phone calls, which he says prompted him to hire a call center capable of answering 1,000 phone calls simultaneously. He also says that the show generated higher ratings than the soap The Young and the Restless.
But the amount of calls in subsequent episodes of the show then dropped off.
It's not because people ran out of legal problems, says Corea, but rather because the station allegedly failed to transfer any calls for extended periods of time during the show. He says the defendants have denied this, leading him to do a full-on investigation that revealed that only 44 percent of calls were actually reaching him. (In the complaint, he boldfaces and underlines and uses an exclamation point on this statistic.)
The parties then purportedly got into a fight about money owed for Corea's services, but in the end, the case has become about the lost business income. Corea accuses CBS of costing him 56 percent of potential business opportunities, which he "conservatively" estimates to be worth $1.4 million. He's now suing for breach of contract, unjust enrichment, fraud, deceit, tortious interference, conspiracy, deceptive trade practices, breach of special relationship, breach of confidence, unfair competition, negligence, and on and on....