The montly Florida Bar report of attorneys spanked by the state Supreme Court includes only two South Florida attorneys among the 11 disciplined.
One attorney got in trouble for doing nothing and another got in trouble for being way too proactive.
▪ Miami’s Arturo Dopazo III (St. Thomas University School of Law, admitted to the Bar, 1996) has been suspended until Nov. 3, 2018 for behavior that epitomizes the worst of the boorish ambulance-chaser stereotype.
The Referee’s Report recommended Dopazo get 60 days suspension. The Bar wanted two years. The Florida Supreme Court landed a little closer to the Referee.
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While the Bar didn’t prove suspicions Dopazo took part in an illegal patient recruiting scheme involving local lawyers and medical clinics -- Dopazo had an explanation for the 31 payments to Miami-Dade Services, Inc. -- the court didn’t have much doubt about what happened between Dopazo and Penny Jones in 2007.
The court wrote: “...days after her son suffered traumatic brain injury as the result of a motor vehicle injury, Penny Jones was approached at Jackson Memorial Hospital Ryder Trauma Center by Dopazo, who successfully solicited her to become a client of his for a fee. There was no prior relationship between Jones and Dopazo, nor were his legal services sought by her or anyone acting on her behalf. The referee found that Dopazo’s appearance at the hospital was completely unexpected, and while she did apparently retain his services at that time, Jones’ limited education and fragile emotional condition at the time likely rendered her unable to make a rational decision whether to retain counsel or reject Dopazo’s efforts to sign her up as a client.”
▪ Hollywood’s Carol Lynn Benson Kendall (University of Richmond School of Law, admitted to the Florida Bar 2002) got disbarred, the final step after her suspension in February and a suspension in October, 2016. Kendall, 73, got suspended and disbarred for taking clients’ money, then acting like a retired septugenarian attorney.
The Findings of Fact in the Referee’s Report says D’Mitri Reneau paid a $1,000 retainer in June 2014 for Kendall to represent him in a child custody case. Kendall proceeded to “take little or no significant action.” The only pleading she filed was a Notice of Appearance in March 2015. Then, after being retained in November, 2014 by Michele Gure, she failed to make timely filings or inform Gure of several motions by the plaintiff. She withdrew from representing Gure in June, 2016. Kendall then failed to respond to a Bar inquiry.