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Thread: Suing a lawyer

  1. #1
    hjallge Guest

    Suing a lawyer

    What is the name of your state? Texas

    I hired an attorney in June of 2002 to represent me in an ongoing child custody suit. I paid him $2,500, and ultimately, he did nothing on my case. He never filed the paperwork that I had hired him to file. I have filed a complaint with the State Bar of Texas only to find out that he has been disbarred. He is no longer eligable to practice law. I am wanting to take him to small claims court to get my $2,500 back. I am trying to find out the exact date that he was disbarred because apparently it happened in 2002. How would I go about getting this information? I am speculating, but I think he never filed anything on my case because he was already disbarred when I retained him. Maybe I am wrong; any suggestions?
  2. #2
    I AM ALWAYS LIABLE is offline Senior Member
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    Re: Suing a lawyer

    Originally posted by hjallge
    What is the name of your state? Texas

    I hired an attorney in June of 2002 to represent me in an ongoing child custody suit. I paid him $2,500, and ultimately, he did nothing on my case. He never filed the paperwork that I had hired him to file. I have filed a complaint with the State Bar of Texas only to find out that he has been disbarred. He is no longer eligable to practice law. I am wanting to take him to small claims court to get my $2,500 back. I am trying to find out the exact date that he was disbarred because apparently it happened in 2002. How would I go about getting this information? I am speculating, but I think he never filed anything on my case because he was already disbarred when I retained him. Maybe I am wrong; any suggestions?

    My response:

    Disbarment results are Public Records. So, when you called the State Bar, why didn't you ask?

    IAAL
  3. #3
    hjallge Guest
    The only info that they gave me was that he was disbarred in 2002 and that his last disciplinary action was in Feb. 03. They didn't give me the date that he was disbarred. So, if I contact them personally, will they tell me the exact date or have they provided me with all of the information that they need to?
  4. #4
    I AM ALWAYS LIABLE is offline Senior Member
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    Originally posted by hjallge
    The only info that they gave me was that he was disbarred in 2002 and that his last disciplinary action was in Feb. 03. They didn't give me the date that he was disbarred. So, if I contact them personally, will they tell me the exact date or have they provided me with all of the information that they need to?

    My response:

    When you call the State Bar back, you say - -

    "Look, I unwittingly hire this person thinking he was an attorney, only to find out later he was disbarred. On (DATE), I paid him a retainer fee. So since I'm suing him for reimbursement of that amount, I need to know for my court case the exact date that the State Bar disbarred him, so that I can properly plead a "fraud" cause of action, and other causes of action, I have against him."

    IAAL
  5. #5
    hjallge Guest
    I knew that you would be able to help me. Thank you again for your time.
  6. #6
    hjallge Guest

    IAAL-More help please

    Here is the response that I got, now what can I do?

    Sanction date 2/21/03 - Disbarment

    Rogers violated Rules 1.01(b)(1)(2), 1.03(a),(b),1.08(a), 1.14(a),(c),
    8.01(b) and 8.04(a)(2),(8)

    An Evidentiary Panel of the District 1A Grievance Committee found that
    Rogers in one matter was hired in May 1998 to handle a payout of
    delinquent property taxes. Rogers was paid $48,000. by his client to begin
    payments July 1, 1998, over a six (6) month period. However, Rogers
    only tendered $10,000 on behalf of his client to the Collin County Tax
    Assessor, in December 1998, and converted the remaining funds for his
    personal use. In addition, Rogers failed to reduce to writing as required
    a $50,000 loan he had received from his client. Further, R failed to
    respond to a Subpoena Duces Tecum, issued by the Grievance Committee in
    this matter. In a second matter Rogers was hired and paid a retainer fee
    in the amount of $1,500 to handle a divorce matter. Thereafter, Rogers
    neglected his client's legal matter by failing to enter temporary
    orders and by failing to notify his client of a trial date. Further,
    Rogers' failed to appear at the trial resulting in a default decree of
    divorce being entered. Rogers subsequently filed a Motion for New Trial,
    but failed to secure a hearing resulting in its overruling by operation
    of law. In three other matters Rogers was hired to prosecute employment
    disputes against Dallas Area Rapid Transit. Thereafter, Rogers
    neglected his clients' legal matters by failing to attend trial settings
    resulting in dismissals with prejudice. In addition attorneys' fees in the
    amount of $450. were assessed against all three clients. In a sixth
    matter Rogers was hired to represent legal interests of 16 members of
    the Rail Employees Association in pending arbitrations with Dallas Area
    Rapid Transit regarding challenges to the implementation of a Department
    of Labor award. Rogers failure to pursue the matter resulting in a
    dismissal of the case on or about October 23, 2000. Further, Rogers
    appealed the dismissal but failed to pursue the matter resulting in a
    dismissal with prejudice. In all six matters Rogers failed to respond to the
    Grievance Committee as required.


    Sanction date - Fully Probated Suspension
    Probation began 8/1/02 to 7/31/03

    The committee found that Rogers, in the first case, accepted a retainer
    to handle a divorce case for his client. Thereafter, Rogers filed the
    divorce petition, but failed to keep his client informed about the
    status of the case ad that he neglected the case resulting in the case
    being dismissed for want of prosecution. In a second case, Rogers failed
    to do any meaningful legal work on a divorce and custody matter upon
    accepting money from his client. Rogers failed to respond to the
    Grievance Committee on both of the complaints. The foregoing facts support
    violations of rules 1.01(b)(1),(2); 1.03(a); 8.04(a)(8) of the Texas
    Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct.


    Sanction date 7/1/91 - Public Reprimand

    Rules Violated 1-102(A),(1),(5); 7-105(A)
    Represented a client in a claim against an amateur bowling association
    in a controversy over a prize and that Rogers threatened criminal
    prosecution if the prize was not awarded to his client.
  7. #7
    I AM ALWAYS LIABLE is offline Senior Member
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    My response:

    Okay, so at the time you hired him, and up to the middle of the next year, he WAS a licensed, practicing, attorney. However, and since he's no long an attorney, and since your case is still ongoing, all you can do is DEMAND your file to be returned to you so that you can hire an "admitted attorney" to continue on with your case.

    Sure, you can file a Small Claims lawsuit against him in an attempt to regain any of the "unearned" portion of your retainer - - and make him "prove", in court, any earned portion - - but with this guy's track record, it's highly unlikely he'll even appear in court, and even less likely that you'll be able to obtain an accounting and any refund of the unearned retainer fee.

    Good luck.

    IAAL
  8. #8
    hjallge Guest
    I hired him June 29, 2002 to file a writ of habeus corpus and a motion to modify. I stressed that there was a strong sense of urgency when I hired him. By Aug 1st when he was suspended, he was still my attorney, and he had yet to file what I had hired him to do. He did not inform me that he was suspended at that time. On Aug. 6th, less that one week before my deadline, I had to rush to hire another attorney who knoew nothing about my case. On Aug. 2nd I received an email from this jerk "attorney" that basically stole my money, stating that he filed the motions. That was one day after his suspension started. I have all of the documentation. At the very least I am entitled to my $2500 back. Is there anything else that I am entitled to? Also, would small claims court be the route for me to take?
  9. #9
    I AM ALWAYS LIABLE is offline Senior Member
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    Originally posted by hjallge
    I hired him June 29, 2002 to file a writ of habeus corpus and a motion to modify. I stressed that there was a strong sense of urgency when I hired him. By Aug 1st when he was suspended, he was still my attorney, and he had yet to file what I had hired him to do. He did not inform me that he was suspended at that time. On Aug. 6th, less that one week before my deadline, I had to rush to hire another attorney who knoew nothing about my case. On Aug. 2nd I received an email from this jerk "attorney" that basically stole my money, stating that he filed the motions. That was one day after his suspension started. I have all of the documentation. At the very least I am entitled to my $2500 back. Is there anything else that I am entitled to? Also, would small claims court be the route for me to take?

    My response:

    Yes, Small Claims is the route you need to take.

    Look, let's look at this matter in its most "basic" form - -

    1. You entered into a valid contract;

    2. Through no fault of your own, the contract cannot be performed by the attorney; i.e., there has been a "failure of consideration". (**)

    3. Small Claims court is for these types of contract issues, and for money claims that can be calculated.

    IAAL


    (**) The "consideration" in this instance is that you hired an attorney, which, under the contract, was a necessary and inescapable term of the contract. The attorney has since been disbarred. Now, the contract cannot be completed due to that impediment. The contract is now, as a matter of law, "voidable"; thus, entitling you to a refund of all UNEARNED portions of your retainer fee paid to the attorney.
  10. #10
    hjallge Guest
    Thank you, IAAL.
  11. #11
    I AM ALWAYS LIABLE is offline Senior Member
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    My response:

    You're welcome.

    Good luck - - however, since this guy is such a "sludge", it's doubtful he'll be amenable to your request for your file, or to pay any attention to your lawsuit.

    IAAL
  12. #12
    hjallge Guest
    Does the fact that he is now a mediator specializing in family law give me more of a shot of getting him to respond?
  13. #13
    I AM ALWAYS LIABLE is offline Senior Member
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    My response:

    Why would that matter?

    I don't care if he's a Civil Engineer, and he's in charge of building the next Golden Gate Bridge!

    The fact is, he's already been disbarred, and the State Bar has no more jurisdiction over him. In other words, he doesn't have a license to protect any longer - - so, where's the impetus for him?

    Who knows, you might get lucky to have him appear in court. For an attorney, old habits die hard. But, getting him to pay the judgment is a WHOLE other matter.

    IAAL
  14. #14
    hjallge Guest
    Well, this really sucks, but then again, you live and learn, and believe me, I have.
  15. #15
    I AM ALWAYS LIABLE is offline Senior Member
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    Originally posted by hjallge
    Well, this really sucks, but then again, you live and learn, and believe me, I have.

    My response:

    I realize, and appreciate, that you have learned something from this. However, it's really unavoidable if this should ever happen again to you. Case-in-point - - since you have a new attorney, the presumption is made by me that you have also paid the new attorney a retainer fee. What are you going to do if he skips town with your money, OR if he is likewise disbarred?

    I know, I know, you have to trust people at some point in your life, and sometimes that "trust" is violated. But, it doesn't feel any better knowing that. It hurts just the same anytime when someone steals your money.

    IAAL

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