Tampa, Fla.-based Laser Spine Institute founder James St. Louis, DO, claimed in a lawsuit his former lawyers caused him to lose more than $400 million in a judgment by not communicating with him and breaching its fiduciary responsibilities.
Dr. St. Louis filed the suit May 24 in a Florida circuit court against law firm Holland & Knight and the attorneys assigned to defend him against a lawsuit filed by his former business partner Joe Samuel Bailey.
Mr. Bailey sued Dr. St. Louis in 2006 after he left the company they formed together, Laserscopic Spine Centers of America, and launched Laser Spine Institute. Dr. St. Louis worked with private equity firm EFO and Michael Perry, MD, another former partner at Laserscopic Spine Centers of America, to launch Laser Spine Institute, which grew into a multimillion dollar company. Laserscopic Spine Centers of America shut down in 2006.
Holland & Knight was hired to represent Dr. St. Louis, Laser Spine Institute and other defendants in the lawsuit Mr. Bailey filed. The firm worked on the case for 10 years, but Dr. St. Louis claims his lawyers never spoke directly with him about the case and only communicated with Laser Spine Institute. Dr. St. Louis said the firm never informed him that Mr. Bailey sued him personally for hundreds of millions of dollars, according to the lawsuit.
In 2019, the court decided in favor of Mr. Bailey, and Dr. St. Louis was ordered to pay $271 million. After adding pre- and post-judgment interest, the payment has grown to more than $400 million.
In his lawsuit, Dr. St. Louis also accused Holland & Knight of failing to limit his financial exposure and failing to end the litigation in a timely manner. He said the firm didn't inform him of settlement opportunities or the ability to buy Mr. Bailey's legal claims when Mr. Bailey filed for bankruptcy, which would have allowed Dr. St. Louis to dismiss the lawsuit.
Dr. St. Louis claimed Holland & Knight's actions caused him "financial ruin" and has demanded a trial by jury.