Law.Com reports that 2 Florida attorneys were disciplined for settling a big big case, and then agreeing to be paid not to take more cases.

"The Florida Supreme Court disbarred one plaintiffs lawyer and handed another a two-year suspension for taking a $6.4 million fee from the defense to file no more cases against E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co.

Roland R. St. Louis Jr. and Francisco R. Rodriguez of the defunct Miami firm of Friedman, Rodriguez, Ferraro & St. Louis had represented 20 clients suing DuPont for damages allegedly resulting from exposure to Benlate, a fungicide suspected of causing severe crop damage and withdrawn from the market in March 1991.

St. Louis, "the main strategist in the case," had DuPont in a difficult position. The trial court orally accepted a 110-page motion for sanctions for discovery abuse in the lead case, telling DuPont that it intended to sanction the company by striking its pleadings. The court encouraged it to settle the case, according to the high court’s opinion. Davis Tree Farms Inc. v. E.I. DuPont Nemours & Co., No. 1992-20006-CA-01 (Miami-Dade Co., Fla., Cir. Ct.).

DuPont eventually agreed to pay the plaintiffs $59 million if they would get the trial judge’s order vacated and sealed without publicity, settle 18 cases contingent upon the settlement of two key cases, and keep the settlement figures confidential, the opinion said.

At the same time, St. Louis and Rodriguez also agreed to a secret side deal by which the firm would receive a separate $6,445,000 fee from DuPont to refrain from further Benlate litigation against the company and to serve as counsel and/or consultants for the company in future matters, the high court said.

For the professional conduct rules violated in taking this fee, the state Supreme Court disbarred St. Louis and ordered him to disgorge $2,277,663, his share of the fee DuPont paid the firm. The Florida Bar v. St. Louis, No. SC04-49. Rodriguez received a two-year suspension, with a fee yet to be determined. Rodriguez could be ordered to pay as much as $1.4 million to the state bar’s Clients’ Security Fund. The Florida Bar v. Rodriguez, No. SC03-909. "

Email this postTweet this postLike this postShare this post on LinkedIn
Andrew Lavoott Bluestone

Andrew Lavoott Bluestone has been an attorney for 40 years, with a career that spans criminal prosecution, civil litigation and appellate litigation. Mr. Bluestone became an Assistant District Attorney in Kings County in 1978, entered private practice in 1984 and in 1989 opened…

Andrew Lavoott Bluestone has been an attorney for 40 years, with a career that spans criminal prosecution, civil litigation and appellate litigation. Mr. Bluestone became an Assistant District Attorney in Kings County in 1978, entered private practice in 1984 and in 1989 opened his private law office and took his first legal malpractice case.

Since 1989, Bluestone has become a leader in the New York Plaintiff’s Legal Malpractice bar, handling a wide array of plaintiff’s legal malpractice cases arising from catastrophic personal injury, contracts, patents, commercial litigation, securities, matrimonial and custody issues, medical malpractice, insurance, product liability, real estate, landlord-tenant, foreclosures and has defended attorneys in a limited number of legal malpractice cases.

Bluestone also took an academic role in field, publishing the New York Attorney Malpractice Report from 2002-2004.  He started the “New York Attorney Malpractice Blog” in 2004, where he has published more than 4500 entries.

Mr. Bluestone has written 38 scholarly peer-reviewed articles concerning legal malpractice, many in the Outside Counsel column of the New York Law Journal. He has appeared as an Expert witness in multiple legal malpractice litigations.

Mr. Bluestone is an adjunct professor of law at St. John’s University College of Law, teaching Legal Malpractice.  Mr. Bluestone has argued legal malpractice cases in the Second Circuit, in the New York State Court of Appeals, each of the four New York Appellate Divisions, in all four of  the U.S. District Courts of New York and in Supreme Courts all over the state.  He has also been admitted pro haec vice in the states of Connecticut, New Jersey and Florida and was formally admitted to the US District Court of Connecticut and to its Bankruptcy Court all for legal malpractice matters. He has been retained by U.S. Trustees in legal malpractice cases from Bankruptcy Courts, and has represented municipalities, insurance companies, hedge funds, communications companies and international manufacturing firms. Mr. Bluestone regularly lectures in CLEs on legal malpractice.

Based upon his professional experience Bluestone was named a Diplomate and was Board Certified by the American Board of Professional Liability Attorneys in 2008 in Legal Malpractice. He remains Board Certified.  He was admitted to The Best Lawyers in America from 2012-2019.  He has been featured in Who’s Who in Law since 1993.

In the last years, Mr. Bluestone has been featured for two particularly noteworthy legal malpractice cases.  The first was a settlement of an $11.9 million dollar default legal malpractice case of Yeo v. Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman which was reported in the NYLJ on August 15, 2016. Most recently, Mr. Bluestone obtained a rare plaintiff’s verdict in a legal malpractice case on behalf of the City of White Plains v. Joseph Maria, reported in the NYLJ on February 14, 2017. It was the sole legal malpractice jury verdict in the State of New York for 2017.

Bluestone has been at the forefront of the development of legal malpractice principles and has contributed case law decisions, writing and lecturing which have been recognized by his peers.  He is regularly mentioned in academic writing, and his past cases are often cited in current legal malpractice decisions. He is recognized for his ample writings on Judiciary Law § 487, a 850 year old statute deriving from England which relates to attorney deceit.