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Former client wins lawsuit against attorney

A California woman was awarded more than $1 million Tuesday after successfully suing attorney Lawrence Davidson in District Court for forging documents and settling a wrongful death lawsuit without her permission.

That is the good news for plaintiff Tonya’n LaBeaux. The bad news is Davidson vanished nearly three years ago after he was indicted.

In 2005, Davidson was accused of bilking 178 clients out of nearly $1 million. According to the federal indictment, he settled lawsuits without the knowledge of his clients and pocketed the money. LaBeaux was one of those clients.

"I’m trying to sue Davidson personally now because I have no other choice," LaBeaux said after his disappearance.

Davidson was named in a second federal indictment involving his father, Donald Davidson. The elder Davidson was convicted last year of charges related to attempting to bribe then-Las Vegas City Councilman Michael McDonald. Donald Davidson was sentenced to 24 months in prison and is scheduled to be released in February 2010.

"We will record the judgment with the county," LaBeaux’s attorney Jeffrey Galliher said Tuesday. "If (Lawrence) Davidson ever surfaces, we can try to collect on any assets he might have."

LaBeaux’s father, Frank Charles Molica, died in 1999 after an off-road vehicle accident outside of Truckee, Calif. Molica was airlifted to Washoe Medical Center and released the next day. The 60-year-old died seven hours later.

According to a coroner’s report, Molica had nine rib fractures and lacerations to his lungs. The Nevada Board of Medical Examiners ruled the doctor erred in releasing Molica. LaBeaux filed a wrongful death lawsuit.

She hired California attorney Robert Tessier in 2000. Because state law requires out-of-state attorneys to hire co-counsel licensed in Nevada, LaBeaux also hired Lawrence Davidson.

In 2006, LaBeaux said she realized she had a slam-dunk case and instructed Tessier and Davidson not to accept a settlement. But without the knowledge of Tessier or LaBeaux, Davidson negotiated a settlement agreement for $187,000. LaBeaux never received any of the money.

Contact reporter Adrienne Packer at apacker@reviewjournal.com or 702-384-8710.

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