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Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Attorney Jail-Bound for Refusing to Hand Over Client's File

NY Lawyer Fined, Heading to Jail for Refusing to Turn Client's File Over to Her New Attorney
The New York Law Journal by Mark Fass - February 3, 2009

A state appeals panel has upheld a $10,000 sanction and 30-day jail term for a Manhattan attorney who refused to turn over a client's files to his successor. In the underlying wrongful-death action, attorney Kenneth Heller, 79, won a $25 million jury award, which the trial court reduced to $7.6 million and the Appellate Division, First Department, reversed and remanded. When Mr. Heller's client, Ruby Emanuel, whose husband died in a 1992 dry-docking accident, hired a new lawyer to retry the case, Mr. Heller refused to turn over his files, despite a sheriff's raid of his lower Manhattan office (NYLawyer, March 27, 2007). Bronx Supreme Court Justice Howard R. Silver sanctioned Mr. Heller and sentenced him to 30 days in jail. Last week, another First Department panel upheld Justice Silver's order. In its unsigned decision, the unanimous panel held in Emanuel v. Sheridan Transp. Corp., 00458/09, "The finding of contempt and subsequent punishment and seizure order were warranted by appellant's disobedience of successive court orders unequivocally directing him to turn over his file to plaintiff's new attorney and the resulting prejudice to plaintiff's right to a new trial in this action for maritime wrongful death."


Anonymous said...

Seems this nut job wasn't paying his union/party dues...

Anonymous said...

This is a problem that the Courts has caused over the years. An attorney who works on a file on contingency will lose a lot of money when a file is transferred to another attorney. The Court do not set up a proper mechanism to allow the outgoing attorney to be properly compensated. Further incomming counsel are to often malicious about fee splitting and will often seek to keep a lions share of a contingent fee while doing the least of the work. In this case this attorney has done the bulk of the work and has expended an enormous amount of time and money on this case. The new attorney need only retry the case - albeit this is an important
part. However, the new counsel spends the least amount of time on the case while the prior counsel must turn over the file in its entirety. The new counsel must pay the old all of his disbursements which many attorneys do not want to pay. In this case the disbursements are likely to be substantial in excess of $20,000.00. The new attorney should he be successful at a new trial or settlement will try not to properly compensate the old attorney. In this case this attorney appears to have handled the case for more than a decade. The rub is that bad case law allows the new attorney to virtually rob the old one of his rightful fee. If the judge involved the case is competent and courteous the fee dispute can be properly resolved. However this is a big if. The Court easily resolve this by paying the outgoing attorney a fixed percentage of the work completed.
In this case depending on how the case is resolved 66-80% of the fee should go to the out going attorney. Anything less is unjust enrichment to the new lawyer. I know this I have been placed in this position and it is not fun. However, he should turned over the file.

Anonymous said...

The bigger issue is that lawyers have learned that they can do whatever the hell they want and almost always get away with it.

Anonymous said...

Eric Holder has been confirmed at the USDOJ. I advise all disgruntled New Yorkers, caught in the G0dfather reality show controlling the NY courts, by lawyers and judges,to contact Mr. Holder immediately to force federal oversight of the goons. Why would any New Yorker in control want change without heat from top down, until then, the rats have replaced themselves with rats.
What NY needs is a bat to eat the rats, until the top at the DOJ sets precendence New York is G, not Gangsta, Gay, not happy, Gay, not homo Gay... but Gay as in taking it in the rear with no reach around. Get pissed, get real, these guys need to be publically confronted by the feds. Forget NY and anyone who lives there. Oh, was Holder from NY, we will see if he is the bat that eats rats.
Best ~ ChiBat
Eliot Bernstein
Iviewit Technologies, Inc.

Anonymous said...

Poor delusional Bernstein. The feds know what's going on. Holder is a swine as are all his subordinates. Will swine act against other swine for being swine? Drink the Kool-aid and don't face your logical demise. NY courts and NY lawyers are swine and swine are swine. From Dante's Hell entrance: "abandon all hope ye who enter here." That is NY courts; face reality or suffer eternally.

Anonymous said...

^^^^46,500 tips/complaints and counting^^^^

Anonymous said..., the Aggressive Progressives - 500,000 strong and growing

Attorney General Eric Holder: Please Appoint a Special Prosecutor

President Obama's choice for Attorney General, Eric Holder, was confirmed by the Senate yesterday and sworn in today. In another proud historic first, Mr. Holder will be our first African American Attorney General.

During his confirmation hearings, Mr. Holder declared unequivocally, "Waterboarding is torture." This terrified Republicans because it means Holder must prosecute George Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Alberto Gonzales, and other top officials who authorized waterboarding and the rest of the "Bush System of Torture," as Keith Olbermann calls it .

Republicans pressured Mr. Holder to promise not to prosecute the torturers, but Mr. Holder refused. He said, "No one is above the law." That's exactly what President Obama said when ABC's George Stephanopoulos asked him our question on January 11.

Of course Mr. Holder must also end eight years of absolute corruption under John Ashcroft, Alberto Gonzales, and Michael Mukasey. He must reverse George Bush's criminal policies on torture, habeas corpus, secret government, and warrantless wiretapping. How can Mr. Holder do it all?

The best solution would be for Mr. Holder to quickly appoint a Special Prosecutor to focus exclusively on Bush's crimes. That would take these crimes off Mr. Holder's desk entirely, and ensure a thorough and nonpartisan investigation.

In December, we launched a petition drive with our friends at . Over 20,000 activists have already urged Mr. Holder to appoint a Special Prosecutor. Please join them:

If you already signed, please user our petition form to encourage friends to sign.

You can also call Mr. Holder's office at 202-514-2001 and leave a simple message: "Appoint a Special Prosecutor for George Bush's crimes."

Thanks for all you do!

Bob Fertik

Anonymous said...

This trick is standard practice for the low life lawyers! The lawyers know that the records are the property of the client! That means nothing to the low life lawyers! One dirtbag did that to me and my son talked to him if you know what I mena! I got my records!

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