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Laurel man awarded $103M in suit against lawyer

LAUREL — A Mississippi businessman has been awarded $103 million in a lawsuit against the Chicago-based law firm that he accused of defrauding his oil and gas business.

Lavon Evans Jr. filed the lawsuit in Jones County Circuit Court in Mississippi in 2008. It sought $150 million in damages from attorney Joel Held, who worked at the Dallas office of the Baker & Mackenzie law firm.

Held represented one of Evans’ companies and manipulated documents and disclosed confidential information to benefit Reed Cagle, Evans’ partner in Laredo Energy Holdings LLC, the lawsuit claims, among other things.

Baker & McKenzie told The Hattiesburg American in a statement that it disagrees with the verdict and will appeal.

“We are confident we acted in a manner that was entirely consistent with our professional obligations and that no harm was done to the plaintiffs,” the lawsuit said. “We will continue to argue our position vigorously and expect we will be vindicated. As this is a pending legal matter, we will have no further comment at this time.”

Evans had no comment on the lawsuit.

Cagle’s attorney said his client was not a party in the lawsuit, but was are aware of the allegations in the lawsuit that claimed Cagle and Held conspired to defraud Evans.

“We categorically deny that there was any such conspiracy,” said Mike Bowers, an attorney with Bell, Nunnally and Martin LLP in Dallas.

Evans owns Evans Operating Mississippi and E&D Mississippi drilling company in Laurel, Miss.

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