Thursday, September 5, 2013
Attorney Charged With Confidentiality Breach In Response To Unfavorable AVVO Review
The Illinois Administrator has filed a complaint alleging two counts of misconduct on the part of the accused attorney.
One count alleges that the attorney violated her duty of confidentiality by responding to a client's unfavorable review of her services:
On or about 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. Shortly before hiring Respondent, American Airlines had terminated Rinehart's employment as a flight attendant because Rinehart allegedly assaulted a fellow flight attendant during a flight. At that time, 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 his employment history at American Airlines and information concerning the alleged incident involving the other flight attendant. Respondent also reviewed Rinehart's personnel file, which she had obtained from American Airlines.
On or about January 16, 2013, Respondent represented Rinehart at a telephonic hearing before the Illinois Department of Employment Security ("IDES"), which resulted in the IDES denying 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. Rinehart stated in the posting that "She only wants your money, claims "always on your side" is a huge lie. Paid her to help me secure unemployment, she took my money knowing full well a certain law in Illinois would not let me collect unemployment. [N]ow is billing me for an additional $1500 for her time."
Between February 7, 2013 and February 8, 2013, Respondent contacted Rinehart by email and requested that Rinehart remove the February 5, 2013 posting about her on AVVO. 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.
Sometime between February 5, 2013 and April 10, 2013, AVVO removed Rinehart's posting from its online client reviews of Respondent.
On or about April 10, 2013, Rinehart posted a second client review of Respondent on AVVO. In the April 10, 2013 posting, Rinehart stated that "I paid Ms. Tsamis $1500 to help me secure unemployment while she knew full well that a law in Illinois would prevent me from obtaining unemployment benefits."
On or about April 11, 2013, Respondent posted a reply to Rinehart's April 10, 2013 client review. In that reply Respondent stated that:
"This is simply false. The person did not reveal all the facts of his situation up front in our first and second meeting. [sic] When I received his personnel file, I discussed the contents of it with him and informed him that he would likely lose unless the employer chose not to contest the unemployment (employers sometimes do is [sic]). Despite knowing that he would likely lose, he chose to go forward with a hearing to try to obtain benefits. I dislike it very much when my clients lose but I cannot invent positive facts for clients when they are not there. I feel badly for him but his own actions in beating up a female coworker are what caused the consequences he is now so upset about."
By stating in her April 11, 2013 AVVO posting that Rinehart beat up a female coworker, Respondent revealed information that she had obtained from Rinehart about the termination of his employment. Respondent's statements in the posting were designed to intimidate and embarrass Rinehart and to keep him from posting additional information about her on the AVVO website.
By filing a UE claim, didnt the client insert the allegation that he assaulted a coworker into the public realm? Are UE proceedings sealed from the public?
Posted by: N | Sep 20, 2013 7:15:03 AM
I think I am with the lawyer. Once the client put it in the public domain he/she should be seemed to have waived the privilege.
Posted by: Stuart Gary Friedman | Feb 10, 2019 11:00:59 AM
It is surprising what goes on with lawyers on AVVO sometimes.
Posted by: Evan Guthrie | Sep 6, 2013 2:45:19 PM