he fallout from Martina Navratilova’s galimony suit with ex-lover Judy Nelson, settled in March, may have broken up the formidable Dallas law partnership of Koons, Fuller, McCurley & Vanden Eykel- depending on who you believe.
Late last year, Navratilova dismissed attorney Mike McCurley, claiming she had been overcharged. She refused to pay $200,000 of the approximately $500,000 she owed McCurley and three other attorneys for their services. Navratilova also disputed McCurley’s billing her $7, 000 for the services of Larry Upshaw, a Dallas public relations agent. In addition, the tennis star balked at a $3, 500 charge from McCurley for air-conditioning his firm’s offices after hours during July and August, when temps were hired to computerize records for the case.
Accounts of the aftermath differ radically. Three sources close to the firm, including one of its 10 members, say that after a story on the dispute landed in the Dallas Observer, rival attorneys used the bad publicity about Koons, Fuller to lure away clients who might be leery of overcharges. Finally, in an effort to staunch the bleeding, the partners ordered McCurley to walk the plank.
McCurley, who departed the firm in February, says he left to form a partnership with a longtime friend. Brian Webb. "There’s not one scintilla of truth" to the stories that he was ousted, McCurley says. "Whoever’s saying that has a blackness of heart in their mind."
Founder Bill Koons says that nobody in his firm was pleased by the Observer story, but "Mike left because of the reason he said he left. There is no bad blood between us. " Ike Vanden Eykel says, "The circumstances surrounding Mr. McCurley’s departure are a private matter, I’m not in a position to confirm or deny these reports."