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Sunday, November 15, 2009

What About the Clients of RRA?

For our Scott Rothstein joke of the day, we turn to an anonymous blogger who posted on the Southern District blog that the movie about Scott will star Nathan Lane. What a great fit. Maybe that is where Scott devised everything to begin with. He watched 'The Producers' as a young boy. And guess where Max Bialystok winds up? In jail.

Since the start of the Scott Rothstein revelations, I have been pleading for the journalists covering the story to talk about the clients, the clients, the clients. What is being done to protect them?

Think about it, the first day we heard how Rosenfeldt and Adler sued Rothstein to protect the disassembling ‘firm’. Then we heard from another lawyer how he wanted to protect the investors. Then we heard from random bloggers how the ripple effect of this legal catastrophe might impact the political careers of those connected with the firm. Then we heard how their lawyers need lawyers.

Next, then we heard how the implosion was impacting waitresses in the Rothstein empire who legitimately and understandably are concerned about losing their jobs.Then we heard about how people who made money from some of the schemes, including charities, might be the victims of clawbacks, a legal way of recouping funds from those unjustly enriched. Now the FBI and Mike Mayo want to hear from all the victims, and each have given you an email address to write to them, but Mike might be more fun to talk to. OK Mike, so here goes. Me. I am a victim.

Today, I confess. You see, I am one of the RRA clients. I have a significant personal injury case, maybe worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, with them. The kind that Scott was apparently selling to car dealers who have too much money and no smarts. In the midst of litigation, I was just ordered to produce to my attorney- and then supply to defense counsel- certain discovery documents within ten days- almost two weeks ago, OR I faced dismissal of one of the counts of my claim. Trouble is no one at RRA who was handling my case could be located anywhere.

As you can see from the below pleading published at South Florida Lawyers blog, the RRA team was virtually shut down. There were no servers. There was no email. There may have been no support staff working critical cases with various time deadlines which predated the Debacle.No one could tell me if the papers on my own case were filed in a timely fashion. Fortunately, for me, I am a lawyer. I took the bull by the horns and said ‘I can do this myself.’ So I did. I sent the required paperwork to opposing counsel on my own. Most clients can’t do that. Most clients would not know to do that. And all clients are not supposed to do that, and should not do that. I did anyway. So thinking to myself if this can be happening to me, with 30 years in the fold, and connections to almost all the players at RRA, what is happening to everyone else?

I mean the lawyers their are drowning, up to their ass in alligators, and I have got to believe there are things on their minds besides their cases and clients. Like their asses, their jobs, their lives, their next paycheck. I can’t- to the non lawyer- effectively communicate the nuclear shellshock which has leveled the firm as surely as if it were bombed in a terrorist attack.Well thanks to the SFL blog, here is the point I am making. Clients are at risk. Look at how desperate the lawyers are, subject first to the whim of opposing counsel, and second, the discretion of a judge.You read this and YOU KNOW that client’s interests have in fact already been compromised in multiple cases by this law firm’s collapse.

Suppose you have waited as I have two years for a trial and now you have just been rolled over to another docket three months down the road because your lawyers are no longer ready. I am screwed and deferred again. Anyway, one issue I have advocated the past week I submit again for judicial consideration.

The chief judges of our local circuits should issue an administrative order mandating that time limitations on any RRA cases and pleadings be appropriately tolled so as to preserve client rights and interests. Now you say, why an order? Why not let each judge decide? Easy answer for me.Because folks, after 30 years of litigating cases in this cesspool of corruption, I do not trust judicial discretion all that much. So the right thing is for each chief to protect every client.

Here is the SFL pleading that is so revealing in this regard. Look at it, they are begging, virtually begging for an extension. Suppose they don’t get it? Who gets wiped out? I will tell you, who- the clients, of course.
3. On November 3, 2009, a receiver was appointed for Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler (“RRA”), counsel for plaintiffs and third-party defendant, due to its dire financial condition. Additionally, a search by law enforcement shut down RRA’s computers for 3 days last week. RRA’s account with Westlaw has been suspended, thus making any legal research a difficult task. Numerous personnel have already left RRA and it is anticipated that additional employees will depart in the near future.

4. Despite these obstacles, the undersigned attorneys remain working and have continued to diligently attempt to represent their clients, including the plaintiffs and Ebway in this action, to the best of their ability despite these incredible unforeseen circumstances. It is anticipated that counsel will have to relocate their practice in the immediate future on an expedited basis. In light of these factors, it is simply impractical to comply with the present deadlines. The depositions which remain to be completed require travel to Michigan. Plaintiffs and third-party defendant have sought to schedule the depositions they desire to take within the existing discovery deadline but GFM refuses to schedule those depositions because GFM personnel are out of town on a business trip during the days requested (which are the only days left before the deadline to do so).

Alternatively, plaintiffs and third party defendant have proposed a schedule (also taking into account the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday) to complete the remaining depositions that all of the parties desire to take and to provide additional information requested in GFM Corporation’s Motion to Strike Expert Witness for Failure to Comply With Disclosure Requirements [D.E. 140]. GFM’s counsel has expressed a willingness to accept this proposed schedule, but to do so would require an extension of the discovery deadline until December 4, 2009. For these reasons, it is respectfully requested (with humility and a plea for compassion) that this Court enlarge the time through and including November 23, 2009, to response to the Motion for Summary Judgment and until December 4, 2009, to complete discovery.

In closing, I have some good news for myself and I suppose lots of clients of RRA. Today I heard that many lawyers at RRA, including my own, began writing letters to their clients advising them of the status of their case, giving them an option to elect one of three alternatives, and to advise RRA accordingly.

I will summarize the letter for you. I have not seen it on any of the other blogs. I guess I am breaking news but the news in this case is breaking me. I am not happy. I feel victimized, and while I can easily rebound because of my position, I am just thinking how unfair this is to so many others not similarly situated; how many other clients might be out there really getting screwed whose stories are not being told, and whose losses will be far greater than mine ever will be.

So the letter from RRA lawyers gives clients three choices. Option 1 is to keep the case with the firm, fat chance of that happening.

Option 2 is to keep the case with your personal attorney, who has written me a letter advising me he is leaving the firm and going into solo practice.

Option 3 is to take the case away, retrieve the file, and move it to new counsel of my own selection. I have not made up my mind, because I am not pleased with what happened. But then, who is?

I know to those members of the public who read this blog I would like to apologize for how the legal profession that you already distrusted has disgraced you again. I can't imagine how you feel. No wait, I can. I do. So let me share the feeling with you. It may not be lawyerlike, but it sucks.


  1. Don't worry too much about your case Norm, if there is one thing south florida has it is lots and lots of personal injury lawyers :-)

  2. Thanks for publishing this. I am a client . I feel screwed. Nobody has called me back. I hired a new lawyer to get my file. Nobody called him back. He went to the court and made a copy. I don't want any publicity but what you said is true. It is not fair to me. I went there because i knew one of the secretaries so i feel sympathy for her and the people there but what about me?

  3. Option 4 should be no bond for the bastards, all of them, do yuo hear, all of them knew or should have freaking known.........

  4. Unreal. what a good lonnnnnnnnnnng article.
    points well taken, though i think no matter what you think of judges they are entitled to handle their own cases and you have to hope the lawyers are decent, not like the ones SFL cited in his notes.......they look like they opposed a continuance and like you said, it does not just screw the lawyers, it divests clients of their rights, and it won't be like they can sue RRA for malpractice if they are burnt....

  5. You're screwed Kent. Shoulda hired Skip Campbell. But I love your sense of humor. Rothstein does look like freaking Nathan Lane.
    And in jail, he will get to play a queen. and not for a day. more like a quarter century.

  6. Very interesting post. The Ruden lawyers did in fact oppose the continuance, arguing that the discovery period was six months and these lawyers should have completed the discovery within that period.

    Even if true, that's an argument I would never have made in opposition to an enlargement under such dramatically awful circumstances.

    Good luck with your case Normie.

  7. I am not a lawyer so here is my question to those of you who are. If everything is confidential how do the clients find out if they are being screwed ...what if the lawyers dont tell them something, they lose a motion, the case gets booted, someone does not win who should have, how can you then sue the firm for malpractice if that firm does not exist anymore

  8. With all the artilces written about the Rothstein meltdown, I find it interesting that this is the only one that focuses on the clients. While everyone else is too peroccupied with strippers in hotels and how many video cameras are in Scott's office, nobody has mentioned the clients. Nice job, Norm.