Published 3:30 p.m. CT May 3, 2021 |
The Florida Supreme Court has disciplined a prominent Pensacola personal injury attorney for filing frivolous and exaggerated filing to raise the attorney’s fee to over $ 28,000 in a single case.
Jeremiah J. Talbott’s legal license was suspended for 60 days and he was ordered to attend the Florida Bar’s Professionalism Workshop and Ethics School, according to a Florida Bar press release. The Florida Supreme Court issued a disciplinary injunction on Talbott on April 15 to begin his temporary suspension within 30 days.
The disciplinary action resulted from Talbott’s “churning” of legal fees, a term used in the legal profession when a lawyer does unnecessary work to pay the bill for his services.
Talbott did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the news journal on Monday.
Talbott was hired to litigate federal lawsuits under the Fair Labor Standards Act in February 2017. His client, Christopher Moss, was a driver and operator for a local construction company, Pav’R Construction Inc. or PRC.
Moss quit his job after his employers wanted him to pay for equipment they claimed broke while on the job. After he quit, his wages were withheld for a payment period to compensate the company for some of the defective equipment.
“This PRC action technically meant that Mr. Moss was receiving less than the minimum wage for a pay period and the PRC had violated a federal law called the Fair Labor Standards Act,” Florida Bar complained against Talbott.
Moss hired Talbott to take China PR and company owner Michael Breton to court, arguing that he had withheld wages of $ 496.62.
After several months of back and forth filing, Breton and the PRC agreed to pay Moss the $ 496.62.
Talbott then filed a motion asking Breton and the PRC to pay him $ 28,351 in legal fees allegedly incurred in recovering the $ 496.62 on behalf of his client, and the court questioned his request.
A complaint filed by the Florida Bar with the Florida Supreme Court found that Talbott “exaggerated the level of fees incurred in alleging that he performed numerous secretarial and legal duties at his statutory rate of $ 350 an hour rather than delegating these tasks to its legal staff “.
Talbott has been accused of violating Florida disciplinary rules, including conducting frivolous litigation, failing to expedite litigation, filing exaggerated billing sheets in court, and filing extensive and unnecessary discoveries to increase attorney fees for no reason, according to the Florida Bar.
Florida Supreme Court documents indicated that Talbott did not deny the allegations and was subsequently disciplined.
Colin Warren-Hicks can be reached at [email protected] or 850-435-8680.
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