Judge Orders Houston Attorney, Investigator to Stay Away from Survivors
CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. (AP) _ An attorney and investigator from Houston have been barred by a judge from contacting Tennessee relatives of victims of the plane crash that killed 248 soldiers of the Army’s 101st Airborne Divison.
Montgomery County Chancellor Alex Darnell issued a temporary order Monday barring attorney Andrew Layman and investigator Robert Hollen from contacting victims’ survivors concerning possible lawsuits against Arrow Air of Miami, operator of the jetliner that crashed Dec. 12.
The plane crashed shortly after takeoff at Gander, Newfoundland, killing eight crew members and the soldiers, who were returning from a peacekeeping mission in the Middle East.
The judge’s order came after L. Raymond Grimes, president of the local bar association, complained that out-of-state attorneys were involved in what he called unethical solicitations.
″These two fellows are not the only ones soliciting clients, but they are the only ones we can get our hands on,″ Grimes said.
In a petition filed Monday, the bar association argued that neither Layman nor Hollen ″are in possession of or hold a license to practice law in the state of Tennessee (and) their acts constitute the practice of law.″
The two ″have been engaged in and are currently engaged in the solicition of the victims of the air crash,″ the petition claimed.
The practice is not illegal in Tennessee, but is unethical under local canons of conduct, Grimes said.
James R. Dodson of Clarksville, identified in the petition as a friend of Rayvon Johnson, widow of Staff Sgt. Rayvon L. Johnson, said Hollen called Mrs. Johnson’s house Dec. 23 and identified himself as an investigator with the Shelton and Goller law firm in Houston.
″He stated that his firm would like to represent Mrs. Johnson in a lawsuit against Arrow Airlines,″ Dodson said in an affidavit. ″At no time did Mr. Hollen say he was investigating anything. He gave me the impression that he was nothing more than a bird dog soliciting for the Shelton and Goller law firm.″
An effort by The Associated Press to reach Layman and Hollen by telephone at the law firm was unsuccessful Tuesday. A call to the office was answered by an answering service which said the law firm was closed for the day.
Darnell set a Jan. 14 hearing on a request to make his restraining order permanent.