A California attorney, who said he was fired from personal injury firm Dunbar & Associates after raising questions about unethical billing practices, sued the firm in a state court demanding, among other things, reimbursement and compensation for emotional distress.
Frederic Giersch told the Los Angeles District Supreme Court that he joined the firm as a clerk in May 2020 and was promoted to attorney in July following his admission to the bar. However, he was fired in December after allegedly raising concerns about the ethics and legality of the company’s billing practices to company owner Kevin Dunbar.
Giersch alleged alleged employees of the company had to bill for 8.6 hours per day and were asked to adjust the entry descriptions in order to make otherwise non-billable tasks billable. According to the complaint, an administrative assistant told Giersch that she had postponed his accounting time while he was clerking for other lawyers so that the firm could settle him at a lawyer’s rate. She would also reportedly increase his and other employees’ payroll times after they submitted their sheets.
Thursday’s complaint alleged the company used “seemingly fictional paralegals” to prevent third-party billing administrators from reducing the company’s bills to customers. Giersch says he was fired when he asked to speak to clients to see if they knew they were being billed under a paralegal who was actually not doing any work.
Reasons for action: Labor code; unjustified termination; Business & Professions Code.
Relief: Damages; special damage; Punitive damages; civil sanctions; Prejudice interest; Judgment interest; Restitution; Legal fees; Costs.
Answer: Dunbar & Associates did not immediately respond to Bloomberg Law’s request for comment.
Lawyers: Kingsley & Kingsley APC represents groundwater.
The case is Giersch v Dunbar & Associates, Cal. Super. Ct., No. 21stcv18010, 05/13/21.