LUBBOCK – In the pantheon of Texas trial attorneys, Larry Foster is a giant among men. Not only has he spent decades serving plaintiffs across the Lone Star State, but he has managed to commit or inflict an incredible variety of his own torts.
Just last week, Foster committed the latest in a series of batteries by angrily shoving an opposing witness during a deposition in a products liability case. When opposing counsel tried to protect his witness, Foster continued his tortious streak by intentionally causing an immediate apprehension of harmful contact to both individuals. While some would say these kinds of antics are unprofessional or even censurable, those who know the feisty attorney describe it as “Larry just being Larry.”
The Honorable Judge Reginald Fox, a member of the Texas bar’s Commission for Lawyer Discipline, chuckled when told of Foster’s latest incident: “So Larry let him have it, eh? I’ll tell you what, he’s got a bit of a temper but he’s a good fellow. If anyone knows the basic elements of personal injury, it’s Larry. He leads by example.”
The aggressive attorney does not restrict himself to assaults and batteries. After a particularly acrimonious trial, Foster expressed himself in a trespass to chattels as he keyed the cars of jurors who ruled against his client. His propensity for poaching clients and meddling with rival law offices have led to accusations and actual suits over alleged tortious interference.
His own staff know they need to stay on their boss’s good side. Long-time paralegal Deanna Baker can recall at least a half-dozen occasions where Foster’s anger unleashed a torrent of extreme and outrageous conduct.
“I remember we had this one young temp who forgot to properly indent a motion he asked her to type,” remembered Baker, “Mr. Foster went ballastic and said such horrible, frankly unrepeatable things that the poor girl suffered such severe emotional distress that she began losing her hair and needed psychiatric help.”
When asked about the hair-loss incident, Foster dismissed it as “at best, negligently inflicted” and “ultimately a non-issue given the propensity of judges in this jurisdiction.” Pushed on some of the harsher statements he’s made about opposing attorneys, he smiled and quipped “defamation is more of a hobby.”
Foster’s personal life also includes its fair share of tortious examples. He once pursued a love interest with such reckless abandon that he was sued for false imprisonment when an incident involving a surprise picnic for two on a boat went chaotically awry. In courting his third wife, a cuckolded husband sued him for alienation of affection (the case later settled). He ran afoul of strict liability when Chompers, his pet cheetah, maimed a Girl Scout.
Even the holidays receive no reprieve from Foster’s actions: Every winter he sneaks into one of a number of commercial tree farms to illicitly cut and remove his own Christmas trees for both home and office. His legendary all-out Fourth of July parties often include such a proliferation of illegal fireworks that he tests the boundaries of negligence per se for blasting –occasionally leading him to pay off the owners of damaged neighboring structures rather than dealing with what he deems the “headache” of subsequent lawsuits.
When it comes time to write Foster’s legacy in stone, Judge Fox believes he will be remembered as part of a dying breed.
“No lawyer in the community, indeed no lawyer who wishes to stay in the practice of law, would handle cases as he does,” observed Judge Fox, “But somehow he makes it work. He turns legal malpractice into a professional mal-career.”