Thursday, January 16, 2014

Reprimand For Confidentiality Breach In Response To Bad AVVO Review

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)

Bar Discipline & Process | Permalink

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