Attorney sues firm over pot licensing

Lawyers accused of malpractice

Great Seal of Arkansas in a court room in Washington County. Thursday, June 21, 2018,
Great Seal of Arkansas in a court room in Washington County. Thursday, June 21, 2018,

A legal malpractice lawsuit involving medical marijuana licensing pits a Forrest City attorney against his own firm and partners.

Marshall Wright and a business partner in a medical marijuana dispensary are suing Wright's law firm Steel, Wright, Gray of Forrest City, along with partners Nate Steel and Alex Gray, claiming the lawyers actively pursued their business then did such a poor job representing their interests it's tantamount to fraud.

Wright and Steel are also former Democratic state representatives. Gray owns marijuana grower Good Day Farm Arkansas while Wright and co-plaintiff Josh Landers of Benton are part owners of a Forrest City marijuana dispensary. They are accusing the defendants, which include the affiliated law firm, Capitol Law Group of Little Rock, of legal malpractice and fraud.

The suit, filed Nov. 4 in St. Francis County Circuit Court, is just more than five pages long and provides few details. The defendants are alleged to have breached their "duties of care and loyalty," "made certain false and misleading representations" and "misled the plaintiffs by [not disclosing] all material facts during the scope of the defendants' representation."

Wright and Landers claim to have suffered unspecified damages and have asked for a jury trial. They are represented by attorneys Scott Poynter and Daniel Holland of the Poynter Law Group who did not respond to an email Thursday requesting more information.

Steel said the defendants are deciding how to respond, given the vague nature of the accusations.

"The complaint is unclear as to what they allege the firm did wrong or what harm was caused, but we will review and respond accordingly," he said Thursday.

The suit further states that Wright and Landers were solicited as clients in 2017 to serve as individual owners and members in "certain business entities" to apply for dispensary licenses.

"Unfortunately, [defendants] did not have the best interest of plaintiffs in mind and did not meet the professional standards and duty of loyalty they each owed to plaintiffs." the suit states.

After preparing dispensary licensing applications for Wright and Landers, the defendants "failed to properly advise plaintiffs of the applications' contents ... then failed to properly advise the plaintiffs on their medical marijuana dispensary, its operating agreement and the management agreements."

Wright and Landers are part owners of Enlightened Cannabis for People of Heber Springs but the suit does not say whether the defendants were involved in the organization and application of that company.

Also representing the plaintiffs is Rik Tozzi with the Alabama-based law firm of Burr Forman. The firm's web site describes him as nationally recognized for "trying and arbitrating for numerous industries against class, mass, individual, and environmental torts in both state and federal courts; representing the financial services industry and other corporate clients against class, mass, individual, and state attorney general claims."

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