June 14, 2012
Man Bites Dog, Lawyer Pays Client (Allegedly)
A recent complaint filed by the Illinois Administrator alleges some rather unusual behavior on the part of an attorney. The client was injured in a class for physical training teachers and had a claim for worker's compensation.
The complaint states that the representation began in the following manner:
In or about January 2010, [client] Klein met Respondent while visiting The Shire Public House, a bar that Respondent co-owned and which was located on Lincoln Avenue in Chicago. Respondent heard Klein speaking to a friend about her worker’s compensation claim, interrupted Klein’s conversation, introduced himself as a worker’s compensation attorney, and gave Klein his business card.
Between January 2010 and May 2010, Klein received medical care for the injuries she sustained on November 11, 2009. In or about May 2010, Klein contacted Respondent, and Respondent agreed to represent her in relation to her worker’s compensation claim arising out of the November 11, 2009 incident. Respondent and Klein agreed that Respondent would receive 20 percent of any recovery derived from the claim as his fee.
The client received compensation payments for a period of time. After the payments stopped, the attorney was able to obtain two $2,500 payments from the employer's insurer.
After September 30, 2010, Respondent stopped communicating with [insurer] Travelers. In the fall of 2010, Respondent falsely told Klein that Travelers had begun sending Klein’s temporary total disability benefits to him. Respondent knew that his statement to that effect was false, and that Travelers had not sent him any funds due to Klein. On an almost weekly basis between November 2010 and March 2011, Respondent met Klein at her residence, and he paid her $200 to $300 in cash on each occasion. Respondent falsely told Klein that the cash payments represented funds sent to him by Travelers.
The complaint goes on to allege a series of false statements to the client about the status of the claim, including:
As of March 2011, no legal proceeding was pending in connection with Klein’s worker’s compensation claim. In or about early March 2011, Respondent falsely told Klein that a trial date had been set in relation to her claim against XSport. Respondent met with Klein at a Starbucks in Lincoln Square to prepare her to testify at that purported trial date. In or about mid-March 2011, Respondent caused Klein to appear at the Thompson Center for the purported trial in her worker’s compensation matter. Respondent met Klein in the foyer of the Thompson Center and falsely told Klein that the other parties had arrived early and that her matter had been continued prior to her arrival. In fact, as Respondent knew, no proceeding was pending in relation to Klein’s claim, and no trial date had been set or continued. Shortly thereafter, Respondent stopped providing weekly cash payments to Klein.
The complaint also alleges failure to cooperate with the bar complaint process. (Mike Frisch)
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