July 8, 2010
Lawyer Gone Wild
The Florida Supreme Court imposed a six-month suspension of an attorney who represented a 17 year-old client who had participated in a wet t-shirt contest during spring break in Daytona Beach. The contest was videotaped without the client's knowledge. She contacted the attorney's firm to pursue potential claims arising from the recording and distribution of the video.
The lawyer had only three years of practice without prior experience in federal court litigation. The court overturned the referee's finding that he had charged an excessive contingent fee but affirmed findings of incompetent representation. The court concluded that the fact that the client signed a series of contingent fee agreements that, in the end, increased the attorney's percentage to 45% did not establish that the fee was excessive. The client eventually fired the attorney and hired new counsel.
A referee had recommended a 90-day suspension in the matter. (Mike Frisch)
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