Friday, July 19, 2013
A Manhattan lawyer was ordered to turn over all but $750 of more
than $22,000 he collected from two clients after a judge determined the
attorney billed the clients up to $450 an hour for time he spent brushing up on
basic legal principles.
The clients, Gerald and Vivian Kleinerman, hired Ronny Buni in
March 2011 to represent them in litigation against their co-op board, which was
already in progress. In June 2011, Buni told the Kleinermans that he would not
do any more work on the matter, citing an unpaid invoice for $6,239.
The matter went to the court system's fee dispute resolution
program, an arbitration program pursuant to Part 137 of the Rules of the Chief
Administrator. An arbitrator awarded the Kleinermans $5,000.
However, Buni initiated a new case in Manhattan Civil Court
against the couple, seeking to recover the $6,239 bill minus the $5,000
arbitration award. The Kleinermans, for their part, sought return of all the
money they had paid to Buni throughout the litigation, a total of $22,371.
Manhattan Civil Court Judge Frank Nervo (See Profile) ruled on July 1 in Buni v. Kleinerman, 000160/12, not only that Buni cannot
recover any more money from the Kleinermans, but that he must remit most of
what they already paid him.
You can read more here.