Thursday, January 16, 2014
A reprimand has been imposed on an Illinois attorney who violated her duty of confidentiality in responding to an unfavorable comment on her services from a former client:
On September 6, 2012, Respondent agreed to represent Richard Rinehart ("Rinehart") in matters related to Rinehart's securing unemployment benefits from his former employer, American Airlines. American Airlines had terminated Rinehart's employment as a flight attendant because Rinehart allegedly assaulted a fellow flight attendant during a flight. Rinehart paid Respondent $1,500 towards her fee.
Between September 6, 2012 and January 16, 2013, Respondent met with Rinehart on at least two occasions and obtained information from Rinehart concerning both his employment history at American Airlines and the alleged incident involving the other flight attendant. Respondent also reviewed Rinehart's personnel file, which she had obtained from American Airlines.
On January 16, 2013, Respondent represented Rinehart at a telephonic hearing before the Illinois Department of Employment Security ("IDES"), at the conclusion of which the IDES determined to deny Rinehart unemployment benefits. Shortly thereafter, Rinehart terminated Respondent's representation of him.
On or about February 5, 2013, Rinehart posted a client review of Respondent's services on the legal referral website AVVO, in which he discussed his dissatisfaction with Respondent's services. On February 7, 2013 and February 8, 2013, Respondent contacted Rinehart by email and requested that Rinehart remove the February 5, 2013 posting about her from the AVVO website. Rinehart responded that he refused to remove the posting unless he received a copy of his files and a full refund of the $1,500 he had paid Respondent as fees.
Sometime between February 5, 2013 and April 10, 2013, AVVO removed Rinehart's posting from its online client reviews of Respondent.
On April 10, 2013, Rinehart posted a second negative client review of Respondent on AVVO. Respondent replied to his post and revealed confidential information about his case. Respondent's reply to Rinehart's second posting contained information relating to her representation of Rinehart and exceeded what was necessary to respond to Rinehart's accusations.
The sanction was an agreed one between the attorney and the Administrator. (Mike Frisch)