California Federal Judge Demands Los Angeles Lawyer Resign Following Profanity-Riddled Emails to Opposing Counsel
Christopher G. Hook is an attorney based in the Los Angeles suburb of Culver City, CA, who has been practicing law for 12 years. But if U.S. District Judge Otis D. Wright II has anything to say about it, Hook’s days as an attorney are all but over due to his recent behavior while representing a married couple in an insurance dispute.
Hook filed a lawsuit in August on behalf of the couple after their multimillion-dollar Los Angeles home flooded. He accused the couple’s insurance company, Allstate, of attempting to “bludgeon these elderly customers into accepting pennies on the dollar of what they were owed.” Hook sued for breach of contract and claimed Allstate was refusing to fully compensate the couple for repairs. Attorneys representing Allstate contend the entire disagreement between the parties concerned, at least initially, approximately $200,000 in costs.
The disagreement soon escalated, however, and within a matter of days Hook sent Allstate’s attorneys at Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton a $125 million settlement demand. According to court documents, Hook addressed the attorneys via the settlement demand with, “Attention criminal enterprise enablers…”
Attorney Marc J. Feldman, part of the team representing Allstate, is reported to have balked at Hook’s request. When Feldman suggested a more appropriate settlement would be in the range of $200,000 or less, Hook’s behavior became rather unhinged.
“F— you crooks,” wrote Hook. He then instructed the attorneys to eat a bowl of male genitalia. According to court records, Hook referred to attorneys for Allstate as “thief,” “gay boys,” and “criminal enterprise enablers.”
Hook also issued threats, declaring “Don’t make me come down there and beat you you f****** thief” to one attorney, and insinuating he would go “bat—- crazy” on another. “Tell Allstate I am going to water board each one of their trolls that show up for depo[sition] without any mercy whatsoever,” Hook wrote.
According to the Washington Post, in one email Hook also wrote that “Karma is a [expletive], [expletive].” In that same email, Hook wrote that he knew where one Allstate attorney lived. “You are going to learn that in spades,” he wrote. The next morning, Hook sent a message invoking the attorney’s wife and the location of their home.
Each time Hook issued a threat, the demand for a settlement figure increased, eventually reaching $305 million.
Once Hook’s threats started focusing on opposing lawyers’ homes and families, Allstate turned to Judge Wright for assistance. On Nov. 26, Allstate’s lawyers asked Wright to issue a restraining order against Hook. Additionally, they requested that Hook be removed from the case and that the lawsuit be dismissed.
Allstate lawyers have described Hook’s behavior as “shocking and even terrifying.” Not surprisingly, Judge Wright agreed. At a December 16 hearing, Wright informed Hook that the legal system would be better off without him.
“Tell you what, slick, this profession does not need you. I am going to do what I can to remove you from this profession,” Wright stated during court proceedings.
Hook claims his language was simply a negotiating tactic and should never have been taken seriously, referring to his threats as simply “bluster” or “puffery.” Judge Wright disagreed and ordered Hook be removed from the case.
Technically, the suit was allowed to continue with Hook’s participation because the plaintiffs had no knowledge of Hook’s behavior. However, when Hook’s clients, the aforementioned married couple, became aware of his behavior, they immediately fired him. At present, Hook is no longer part of the negotiations, although he does still have a vested interest in the outcome of the lawsuit.
Wright decreed that Hook is forced to pay all legal fees accumulated by the lawyers representing Allstate. Prior to concluding the proceedings, Wright made it clear to Hook that the conversation regarding his future was not yet finished.
“You’re going to pay for this,” Wright said, according to the Recorder. “You’re going to write a check. That’s just the first thing. This is not going to be over.”