In a legal malpractice case in which Jones, Wolf & Kapasi, LLC (“JWK”) along with co-counsel Jaffe & Velazquez, LLP recently defeated an appeal thereby affirming the trial court’s denial of an Order to Show Cause to vacate a default by a New York City personal injury attorney (and his law firm) (“Defendants”), the attorney was disbarred yesterday from practicing law in New York. In our lawsuit, we alleged that Defendants absconded with the monetary proceeds of the settlement from our client’s previous personal injury case.
In disbarring our client’s former attorney, the New York appellate court’s decision included the following language, referencing our legal malpractice case against him:
“…Other charges related to the way in which respondent handled other client matters, including that of a personal injury client called to testify by the AGC. Respondent settled that client's case for $650,000 in October 2014, at which time he took his one-third legal fee of $216,666. He and the client orally agreed that he would pay her $10,000 and would hold the remaining funds until she wanted them. Between November 2015 and March 2016, respondent distributed an additional $10,000 to the client in increments as requested but thereafter stopped complying with her requests for funds. In order to obtain the balance of her settlement funds, the client had to retain counsel and file suit against respondent. Respondent defaulted in the action, which he unsuccessfully sought to have vacated. In April 2018, respondent paid the client the balance of her funds, which amounted to $355,558, out of which she had to pay her counsel $118,000 as a one-third contingency fee…
…Further, respondent's mitigation evidence is not sufficiently compelling to warrant a lesser sanction…Moreover, any such mitigation evidence is outweighed by the sheer magnitude of respondent's misconduct, especially his failure to promptly pay over settlement funds to which his client was entitled, resulting in her incurring $118,000 in legal fees to collect the funds, as well as the fact that he was previously admonished for misconduct...” (internal citations omitted)
The appellate court decision disbarring the attorney can be read here.
The underlying legal malpractice case is Neely v Scott A. Felicetti, The Felicetti Law Firm et al, Index No. 29170/2018 (Sup. Ct. Bronx County).