Friday, December 09, 2005

Attorneys Admit The Law Offices of Eddie Farah Overcharged Clients By $130,000

JACKSONVILLE, FLA---Public records reveal attorneys admit that the Florida law firm FARAH, FARAH & ABBOTT, P.A. a/k/a The Law Offices of Eddie Farah overcharged clients by substantial sums in the years 2002 through 2004.

According to the firm's web site, it is now known as the Law Offices of Farah & Farah, P.A. The principals in the firm are Eddie Farah and his brother, Charlie E. Farah.

I am an attorney who was employed by the firm in 2004 when I discovered it was regularly overcharging its personal injury clients. The firm was often 'padding' costs charged to clients by $300 or more per case and had been doing so for several years.

I reported my concerns over the firm's illicit overcharging practices in Sept. 2004 by letter to Donald M. Spangler, Esq., Chief Branch Discipline Counsel for The Florida Bar. A full year went by with no contact from any representatives of The Florida Bar to investigate the reported widescale fraud and misappropriation of clients' funds. I followed up with the Florida Bar in Sept. and Oct. 2005. By email dated Oct. 27, Spangler succinctly responded, "The file to which you refer was closed. The grievance committee considered the matter after investigation and an audit by the bar staff auditor, and found there was no probable cause to pursue disciplinary proceedings. They did elect to send a letter of advice to the firm."

Questioning the thoroughness the grievance committee's investigation as well as the audit by the Bar staff auditor, I followed up with Spangler requesting a copy of The Florida Bar's
complete file. Spangler responded by email on Oct. 28, 2005 saying, "Your request will be treated as a public records request and you will be informed by the appropriate individual regarding the cost of the documents you are requesting."

After additional follow up, I finally received a response to my public records request on Dec. 7, 2005 but the records were obviously incomplete. With the exception of nine pages, the records produced were limited to documents I had personally sent to The Florida Bar. Most notably absent from the records were the Grievance Committee's file and the results from the audit of the firm's trust account that was apparently scheduled for 3/2/05. It appeared the audit took place since the Farahs' attorney, John A. Weiss, Esq., stated in a 9/22/05 letter to The Florida Bar,

"As an aside, I would advise you that the firm has refunded in excess of $120,000.00 ... to those clients who were inadvertently overcharged for costs. Approximately $10,000.00 remains undisbursed because the firm, and the private investigator it subsequently hired, could not find the individuals."

That certainly sounds like a lot of money to be 'inadvertently' overcharged. It would take overcharging 400 clients by $300 each to reach $120,000.

Copyright © 2006 by Jeffrey R. Hill. All rights reserved.

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