In the McGinnis Lochridge’s most recent pro bono win, Houston partner Austin Brister secured a $53k judgment in a suit against a tax preparer under the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act. The plaintiff, who does not speak English, sought the tax preparer’s assistance after seeing several Spanish-language advertisements boasting of various legal services and promising the ability to get “the most money needed” in tax returns. After a short office visit, the fraudulent tax preparer drew up several bogus tax returns without the plaintiff’s knowledge. In these tax filings, the tax preparer included her own bank account in the wiring instructions, and falsified lengthy lists of sham deductions and claimed children tax credits for several unknown children. Through this scheme, the tax preparer caused the IRS to deposit tens of thousands of dollars into her account. The plaintiff was unaware of this scheme, as the plaintiff only received a few hundred dollars and believed that to be the total tax return. However, he became aware of the tax preparer’s fraudulent scheme after the tax preparer received a notice from the IRS.
After a year-long pre-trial battle, Austin was successful in obtaining summary judgment against the tax preparer under the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (DTPA). Austin secured an award of all actual damages, punitive damages, and attorneys’ fees, totaling in excess of $53,000.
Austin is a partner in the firm’s Houston office and member of the Oil & Gas Practice Group. He is dedicated to continuing McGinnis Lochridge's commitment to providing outstanding pro bono legal services for those of limited financial means. Click here to learn more about our pro bono commitment.