September 22, 2008
An attorney was publicly reprimanded by the Louisiana Supreme Court notwithstanding his failure to object to the disciplinary board's proposed suspension of one year and one day with six months deferred. The court had directed the parties "on [its] own motion" to address the sanction issue. The attorney had charged a 50% contingency fee in an accident case where the client had been at fault. The agreement "permitted [him] to charge additional fees if additional legal services were required." The lawyer was found to have charged an unreasonable fee by charging $2,000 to issue two settlement disbursement checks and a $166 fee for paralegal services. He also failed to disburse the remaining amounts to his client, who was elderly, vulnerable and had to hire counsel to get her share.
The reprimand also requires the attorney to pay restitution of the $2,000 as well as the paralegal and attorney fees for the second lawyer. Three justices dissented and would impose harsher discipline. (Mike Frisch)
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