It Keeps Getting Worse

Submitted by patentadmin on Tue, 04/13/2010 - 11:04

We've written a couple of blog posts about the travails of the Greenberg Traurig law firm, which has been accused of legal malpractice by Leviton Manufacturing Co., Inc. (see "What Were They Thinking?" and "Round Two").

Lest the reader forget, Greenberg Traurig has argued that Leviton’s claims are barred by the two-year statute of limitations for malpractice actions. Leviton – which, incidentally, is seeking damages in the amount of $100 million (yep, a hundred million bucks) – maintains that the alleged malpractice was part of a “continuous representation,” whereby the two-year statute of limitations doesn’t apply.

Well, the trial court judge has decided to side-step the issue, calling it a “question of fact” to be decided by the jury. So, the case goes on and Greenberg Traurig continues to stare down the barrel of a possible $100 million verdict.

As if that isn’t enough, a former Greenberg Traurig partner has been criminally charged with overbilling the village of Calumet Park, a suburb of Chicago, an estimated $600K. During the period of 2003-2010, he served as special counsel to the village, performing work related to a state program, known as “TIF,” directed to helping “financially challenged” local governments make improvements.

Apparently, the village was accountingly challenged, as well as financially challenged. Between 2007 and 2010, he billed approximately $2 million, at a time “when little or no development work was being done in the Village. The last significant development project that involved TIF funding was completed in 2005.” Research, after the fact, indicated that “in the last 10 years [the attorney] failed to file any TIF reports with the Illinois Comptroller as is required by law.” For ten years, no one noticed anything amiss.

How was the attorney able to accomplish this long-running feat of financial deceit? Easy, he was a friend of the village mayor! He would simply present a stack of invoices to his buddy, the mayor, who would approve them for payment.

The interesting thing about this alleged fraud is that the ill-gotten gains went to the law firm, not the attorney. According to the prosecutor, the attorney bilked the village simply in order to increase his stature at the firm. Upon hearing of the charges, Greenberg Traurig fired the attorney and said it would “promptly reimburse” any improperly billed fees.

The attorney, who is facing 6 to 30 hard time, will also likely lose his law license. This will almost certainly make it more difficult for him to bill in the future.

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