SAN ANTONIO — The founder of the law firm leading Bexar County’s effort to secure a potentially billion-dollar settlement with opioid manufacturers was arrested Monday afternoon, court records show.
Martin Phipps, 51, was arrested on a misdemeanor charge of telephone harassment, online records revealed. A warrant states Phipps, the day after Christmas 2020, confronted a woman with whom he was romantically involved “and put her in such fear for her life” she fled the country to Mexico, leaving her personal belongings behind.
The warrant states that while the victim was en route to the airport, Phipps called and texted her multiple times telling her to return to his home and she replied she was going to Mexico and wouldn’t return because she was fearful. The warrant states Phipps texted the woman more than 40 times over two days “in a manner reasonably likely to demean, harass, alarm and torment the victim.”
According to the arrest affidavit, the victim filed to annul their marriage to avoid all contact with him “fearing violent retaliation as well as the threat of civil litigation for leaving the defendant."
Phipps’ arrest comes after Phipps’ law partner, attorney TJ Mayes, abruptly announced his resignation from the firm calling Phipps a “serial abuser of women,” writing in a Tweet shared last month he was convinced “without a shred of doubt Phipps is a crook.”
Phipps, who owns the Paramour bar, has donated to a number of political campaigns through the years.
A letter obtained by KENS 5 last month shows several members of the small law firm signed off on a letter calling into question working conditions, along with allegations of mismanagement and Phipps’ behavior. Sources estimated more than 5 people had left the firm over the last few months.
The Phipps firm, through attorney Gabe Ortiz, addressed Mayes' allegations in a statement, writing:
"The firm denies the unsubstantiated allegations. In fact, a majority of employees refused to sign the letter in question and continue to work at the firm on a daily basis, not fearful for their safety or of the work environment.
For over two years, this firm has dedicated millions of dollars and thousands of hours to do what is right by the citizens of Bexar County and hold the multi billion dollar pharmaceutical companies accountable for the damage and destruction they have caused. That commitment will never waiver. The individuals who departed had no litigation or trial experience and were not part of the trial team that has been assembled.
Unfortunately, social media gives anyone the platform to spew unfounded libelous accusations. The people they truly hurt, however, are the citizens of Bexar County.”
A spokesperson for Bexar County said Monday the County had no comment. Previously, in response to the letter authored by members of Phipps’ staff and emails obtained by KENS 5, a spokesperson for Bexar County said, "Bexar County is not a party to this matter. We have no comment.”
A request for confirmation sent to Ortiz of the Phipps Law Firm was not returned as of this publication.
During the daily COVID-19 briefing Monday night County Judge Nelson Wolff acknowledged Phipps’ arrest, saying he sent a letter Jan. 13 giving Watts Guerra LLP, the Phipps firm’s co-counsel on the opioid litigation, authority to act as he saw fit to protect the county’s legal rights and comply with any court orders.
Wolff said the chief of the civil section of the Bexar County District Attorney’s Office’s, Larry Roberson, is monitoring the situation and is expected to send a report to Commissioner’s Court and “will decide what should be done” as it relates to Phipps’ remaining on the case.