Texas Attorney Sanctioned for Keeping Client From Court-Ordered Medical Evaluation

A Texas appeals court rules that the trial court correctly sanctioned an attorney for telling his client’s wife to prevent her husband from attending a court-ordered medical appointment. In the Guardianship of Vassil V. Tchokoev, an Incapacitated Person (Tex. App. No. 12-22-00193-CV, November 17, 2022).

William K. Wilder represented Vassil V. Tchokoev when he was an allegedly incapacitated person in a guardianship case. Mr. Tchokoev’s sons – Mr. Vastan Tchokoev and Mr. Nicholas Tchokoev – sought to become their father’s guardians and requested an independent medical examination of him. Since the first evaluation focused on Mr. Tchokoev’s physical state, the trial court permitted a second appointment with another physician concentrating on Mr. Tchokoev’s mental condition, giving the parties 30 days to complete it.

On the morning of the second examination, Mr. Wilder told Mr. Tchokoev’s wife, Olga Tchokoev, to prevent her husband from attending the meeting because the doctor was a neurologist, not a psychiatrist or psychologist. Consequently, Mr. Tchokoev did not go to the appointment. Shortly thereafter, Mr. Tchokoev died.

Alleging unethical conduct, Mr. Tchokoev’s sons motioned for sanctions against Mr. Wilder. The court granted the motion and allowed the sons to amend it to include attorney’s fees. In turn, Mr. Wilder asked the court for sanctions against Mr. Tchokoev’s sons for making false allegations against him, which it rejected. Mr. Wilder then appealed the sanctions against him.

On appeal, Mr. Wilder argues that the trial court abused its discretion by punishing him because it mandated Mr. Tchokoev’s examiner be a psychiatrist, not a neurologist. The appeals court finds that the trial court did not abuse its discretion. The parties had agreed to use the neurologist before the trial court granted the motion for a second independent medical evaluation. Nothing suggested that Mr. Wilder intended his client to see another doctor within the 30-day period the trial court set.

In his brief, Mr. Wilder claims that the trial court should have sanctioned Mr. Tchokoev’s sons. He alleges that they never posted the bond after the trial court granted a temporary restraining order preventing Mrs. Tchokoev from doing financial transactions on her husband’s behalf. Reviewing Mr. Wilder’s memorandum, the appellate court views his contention as insufficient. As Mr. Wilder did not explain his reasoning, refer to the law, or make a legal argument supporting sanctions against the sons, the appellate court does not entertain the issue. Since the trial court did not err, the trial court should also not order the sons to pay Mr. Wilder’s attorney’s fees.

Affirming the lower court’s judgment, the court of appeals finds no merits to Mr. Wilder’s assertions. The trial court was correct in penalizing Mr. Wilder, not Mr. Tchokoev’s sons.

Read the entire case here.