Johnny Lee Cutliff’s Family Quietly Mourns Their Loss While Accolades and Questions Continue to Pour In for John M. O’QuinnPosted by Rose in All Things Anna Nicole Smith, Amanda Bush, Anna Nicole Smith, Art Harris, Art Harris Exclusive, Art Harris Scoop, Bald Truth Exclusive, Bonnie Stern, Bryan Cave LLP, CBS-ET, Celebrity Trials, Charles "Chip" Babcock, Chip Babcock, Dannielynn, Diana Marshall, Don Clark, Don Clark ex-FBI, Entertainment Tonight, Harry Susman, Harvey Levin, High Proflie Trials, Howard K Stern, John O'Quinn, Laminack Pirtle & Martines LLP, Larry Birkhead, Lin Wood, Luke Lantta, Lyndal Harrington, Nancy Hamilton, Neil McCabe, Richard N. Laminack, Rose Turner, Teresa Stephens, The John O'Quinn Law Firm, The O'Quinn Law Firm, TMZ, TMZ.com, Tom Pirtle, Virgie Arthur
Quietly yesterday and last night family and friends gathered at the home on the northeast side of Houston Texas of Johnny Cutliff to pay their condolences to his wife of twenty-five years, Rosemary Anderson. Johnny Lee Cutliff was described as a modest man by family members who said Cutliff loved John O’Quinn and loved working for O’Quinn.
Relatives describe Johnny Cutliff not just John O’Quinn’s personal driver and attendant but also O’Quinn’s “right hand man” and had been devoted to O’Quinn since 1983 from the first day he worked for O’Quinn. That was before the big wins and the tragic personal and controversial life of O’Quinn unfolded before giant corporations, fellow lawyers with O’Quinn or those on the other side in opposing O’Quinn. It was 1986 when O’Quinn began his own quest of wins to become the most reverend and also the most reviled lawyer from Houston Texas. Mr. Cutliff was one of the few who was in John O’Quinn’s trusted inner circle.
Quite different from the accolades pouring in from around the country for the man described “bigger than Texas”, Mr. Cutliff’s widow sat at her kitchen table and watched the scenes over and over again on her television play out while wondering why. “I really don’t understand how it happened,” she said, staring at the pictures of the wrecked vehicle on TV. Rosemary went on to say, that he, Cutliff, hardly took a day off in the 26 years he had worked for John O’Quinn saying; “He didn’t want to take no vacation or nothing, he really loved his job.”
Rosemary said of her husband that since she first laid eyes on Johnny Cutliff at a Sunday gathering at a friend’s house a quarter-century ago, she loved “just being around him.” Cutliff attended Lakewood Church every Sunday, relatives said. He was “a terrific dad” to his only son, who died in 1993, and a role model for his grandson, his daughter-in-law, Rayna Polk, said yesterday “It’s just shocking for things to happen the way they did today.” Mr. Cutliff was 56 years old.
Our heartfelt condolences go out to all who loved Mr. Cutliff, from his family to friends to those who attended church with him weekly, the pain will remain long after the funeral for Mr. Cutliff as this modest man’s family lay him to rest.
Very different from the around the clock coverage of the wreck that claimed Mr. Cutliff and John O’Quinn’s life yesterday morning on Allen Parkway during rush hour traffic. The police have recovered the black box from O’Quinn’s SUV and confirmed that O’Quinn and not Cutliff was driving when O’Quinn lost control of the vehicle and it became airborne landing impaled on a tree that had to be cut down to remove the wreckage. There are whispers from the Houston police department that O’Quinn was driving way too fast for Allen Parkway, which has claimed more then it share of Houstonians’ lives and left many to recover from other wrecks on this winding treacherous road. Perhaps one of the lasting tributes to O’Quinn will be that one of Houston’s most famous died on that road, and therefore it will finally be fixed as those who lived near the road said they had been begging to have something done to fix the road before something like yesterday happened. One of the witnesses to the wreck described the road as a “waiting time bomb”, perhaps now that it has gone off, the road will be fixed and no one else will be injured or killed traveling Allen Parkway.
John O’Quinn was having Accolades pour in from those who loved him, those who feared him and those still in litigation on adversarial roles. For yesterday, October 29, 2009 those in litigation pending with the O’Quinn Law Firm were quiet and respectful. L. Lin Wood one of the lawyers who had been in an adversarial and contentious battle with John O’Quinn since the spring of 2007 yesterday sent a note to Patti Lampton, a paralegal at the O’Quinn law firm. In answer to Ms. Lampton’s request for prayers for both men, Mr. Wood was one of the few who responded with, “Patti, I am in Washington, DC. I heard the news this morning and sent Neil an email. My deepest sympathy to you and the other members of John’s firm, and yes, to his family and the family of Mr. Cutliff.” it was signed simply “Lin” Even though we also are in an adversarial role with one of O’Quinn’s last big clients, Virgie Arthur, Anna Nicole Smith’s mother, we also stopped yesterday and sent one of what was probably thousands of emails to Ms. Lampton, Mr. McCabe, Don Clark and Wilma Vicedomine offering our deepest sympathy at their loss and offering any help we might be able to give as blog owners.
In interviews John O’Quinn described him and his law firm as a “Benevolent Tyranny” saying no one doubted who was in charge. O’Quinn had said in interviews he took his percentage of the lawsuits off of the top and paid the lawyers who worked for him an hourly rate with a bonus for incentive to win lawsuits. He described it as letting them taste blood like shark infested water by handling the firm in this manner. Some lawyers who knew him like Richard “Race Horse” Haynes said he, O’Quinn, never seemed to find real happiness in his life. Others in O’Quinn’s tight inner circle disputed that saying that might have been true at one time but not recently with Ms. Darla Lexington who was seen as a stabilizing influence on O’Quinn during the last years of his life. He had two failed marriages and had made it clear even as a young lawyer he did not want to have children of his own. He knew in his quest to be the greatest plaintiff litigator of all times he did not have time to be a father.
Now the questions start. Why was John O’Quinn at the Hobby airport in Houston to catch a Southwest airline flight to San Antonia for a mediation meeting at 7 AM to leave and die before 8:15 AM? It was eerie said one lawyer as the Southwest Airline counter began to page John O’Quinn at 9:30 AM to please report to the gate for boarding his flight. The airline did not know that O’Quinn had been killed in a horrendous accident over an hour earlier.
One person close to O’Quinn told us on condition of anonymity that many had been worried about his health lately and problems he was having with his diabetes, time will tell if that played a part of the crash that took his life early Thursday morning. This person said many of the almost 25 lawyers and over 100 support people employed by the O’Quinn Law Firm had worried about what would happen to them and their jobs if something happened to O’Quinn. Not only was he the heart and soul of his firm but also the driving force of brilliance of the firm. O’Quinn was known by his public persona of “Big Bad John”.
Neil McCabe appeared at the scene of the accident to see where his boss had been killed for himself. Mr. McCabe could not hold back the tears choking his throat as he said simply to the press, “That those who worked for O’Quinn were devastated”. McCabe added; “John was not only the head of our firm, he took care of all of us”. McCabe then looked over his shoulder at the wreck scene as if he could not take it all in and with tears no longer hidden said simply, “he will be missed, he will be missed”.
What will happen to this man’s firm that he built with hard work and a zealous need to win and be the best? Ken and I talked quietly about that last night and Ken said, “Rose, whether you loved or hated the man, he was a perfectionist and when the Estate is opened after his funeral next week we will find he left specific instructions for his O’Quinn Law Firm family”. John Maurice O’Quinn never left anything to chance.
Now back to today, yesterday as the death of John O’Quinn was blazing across wire services like the AP, Ms. Lampton on behalf of Mr. McCabe filed papers with the First Court of Appeals that had been prepared the day before.
October 29, 2009 Virgie Arthur Postsubmission Letter Brief with Exhibits to the First Court of Appeals, answering some of the points and questions brought up during the Oral Arguments on Oct. 27, 2009.
The O’Quinn Law Firm has place in effect today the succession plan which also assures both the financial and legal continuity of the firm. That plan will be administered by Christian A. Steed and two other attorneys that had been life long friends of John O’Quinn. The O’Quinn firm has announced on the firm’s website that the funeral for John Maurice O’Quinn will be on November 4, 2009 at 11 AM at the Second Baptist Church in Houston, Texas.
October 30, 2009
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