(Adds details about second lawsuit filed)
Jan 3 (Reuters) (UPDATE 1) - A group of investor clients of Stanford Financial Group is suing law firms Proskauer Rose, Chadbourne & Parke and a partner who worked at both firms for millions the plaintiffs say they lost in a bogus investment scheme.
The lawsuit filed in Texas state court in Houston on Dec. 30 alleges that attorney Thomas Sjoblom, while practicing first at Chadbourne & Parke and then at Proskauer Rose, conspired to defraud 49 plaintiffs from Mexico who unknowingly invested in a Ponzi scheme orchestrated by Allen Stanford. The plaintiffs also allege that the two law firms negligently retained and supervised Sjoblom and are responsible for his alleged wrongdoing.
Also on Dec. 30, the plantiffs' law firm, Castillo & Snyder, filed another lawsuit seeking class-action status in the same court on behalf of 49 plaintiffs, alleging nearly identical causes of action against Sjoblom and the two law firms. The named plaintiffs in that action are not parties to the first lawsuit. Edward Snyder, of Castillo & Snyder, did not respond to requests for comment.
A federal district court on Oct. 21 dismissed similar claims against the same defendants. U.S. District Judge David Godbey in Dallas ruled that federal securities law pre-empted the claims made by the plaintiffs in that case, which were grounded in state law. Those plaintiffs are appealing.
In February 2009, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission charged Stanford and three of his companies with "massive" fraud stemming from a $8 billion phony certificate of deposit program at Antigua-based Stanford International Bank. Stanford is currently in jail, and on Dec. 30, he filed court papers in Houston federal court seeking to delay his Jan. 23 trial by three months.
In August 2009, Sjoblom resigned from Proskauer Rose, where he had worked since 2006. He practiced at Chadbourne from 2006 to 2009, according to the website of the Law Office of Thomas V. Sjoblom in Washington. Reached by phone Tuesday, Sjoblom, who was an assistant chief litigation counsel at the SEC from 1987 to 1999, said he had not seen the latest lawsuit and declined to comment. He directed calls to the two law firms.
The lawsuit filed Dec. 30 alleges that Sjoblom helped thwart an investigation by regulators into Stanford's financial activities and helped him evade Texas securities laws. The complaint, which seeks unspecified actual and punitive damages, also asserts that the law firms were negligent in hiring and supervising Sjoblom.
Proskauer Rose and Chadbourne & Parke did not respond to requests for comment.
The case is Martin v. Proskauer Rose, No. 2011-77800, Harris County Court, Texas.
For the plaintiffs: Edward Snyder, Castillo Snyder, San Antonio, Texas.
For the defendants: Not immediately available.
(Reporting by Leigh Jones)
Follow us on Twitter: @ReutersLegal