The aphorism is that bad cases make bad law. In this particular case, an attorney, now disbarred, has been holding on to case files, demanding payment. So far, not so bad. However, today, sheriffs were ordered in to look for the files, after contempt findings.
"A half-dozen sheriff’s deputies raided a disbarred attorney’s office last week in search of the 43 boxes of files he has refused to hand over to the law firm that has taken over his biggest case, a wrongful-death action filed by a Bronx woman on behalf of her husband, a ship-rigger who plummeted to his death at the Brooklyn Navy Yards.
For all practical purposes, the deputies came out of Kenneth Heller’s office empty-handed.
"None of the records we’ve been seeking [were] there," said Michael S. Feldman, a partner at Jacoby & Meyers, who, with Terry D. Horner, now represents the plaintiff, "No trial notes, no photographs, no witness statements, no pleadings. The only thing that was there was the record . . . generated as a result of my efforts to obtain the file."
The dispute over the case files began in the summer of 2004. Having first lost her multimillion award and then her attorney in just over a month, Ms. Emanuel, a Bronx mother of two who had recently filed for bankruptcy, turned to Jacoby & Meyers to take over her late husband’s wrongful-death claim.
The firm has spent the last two-and-a-half years trying to recover her files.
In various court papers, Mr. Heller has demanded from $2 million to more than $12 million in fees, as well as $300,000 to $400,000 in unitemized disbursements, before turning over the documents "