The Florida Bar has accused Fort Lauderdale litigator Jose P. Font of violating six ethics guidelines governing perform during litigation, allegedly disparaging a group of South Florida attorneys in prolonged motions to withdraw from insurance policy circumstances.
The allegations stem from 2017, when Font stopped representing insurance corporation Southern Fidelity Property and Casualty Inc. and started withdrawing as attorney of report in many South Florida conditions. Discovery is proceeding in the bar complaint, and a hearing is established for January.
The bar alleges Font’s motions ended up typically 13 web pages extended and contained additional than 100 web pages of attachments — several of which weren’t instantly connected to the situation.
It explained Font’s motions ”contained equivalent language, quite a few irrelevant attachments and espoused a litany of disparaging allegations” from Miami attorney Joseph Ligman and his agency Ligman Martin, Pinecrest lawyer Andrew Barnard, his agency Barnard Regulation Workplaces, and its then-affiliate Brandy Raulerson. They represented plaintiffs in some, but not all, of the instances.
The bar submitted its complaint after the Broward Judicial Circuit Grievance Committee observed possible cause.
But Font has denied any wrongdoing and asserted he acted in superior religion, whilst awaiting the final decision from the Florida Supreme Court, which has still to rule on the bar’s allegations.
The legal professional also stressed that there is no proof, and the “relief sought by the Florida Bar does not contain suspension, disbarment or something other than a finding of slight misconduct.”
According to the bar’s grievance, Font’s motions to withdraw explained the attorneys at the middle of his ethics case as “conspirators.” He claimed they tried out to “taint the judiciary by way of fake, misleading, deceptive, unethical and only unprofessional conduct.”
“Even in situations wherever neither Barnard nor Barnard Law were being counsel of document, respondent nonetheless provided language in the motions to withdraw, which accused Barnard of perjury, operation of a prison business and remaining element of a conspiracy with a team of legal professionals that depict insureds in frivolous and/or fraudulent promises,” the grievance reported.
The bar pointed to 13 Broward instances, 1 Palm Beach front case and one particular Miami-Dade situation, in which Barnard was not counsel of file, but in which Font’s filings allegedly however accused him of poor conduct.
The bar’s criticism said several courts struck the displays or allegations in the motions. It singled out orders from then-Miami Dade Circuit Judge Rodolfo Ruiz, who granted Font’s motion to withdraw, but struck the reveals and other allegations as irrelevant.
The bar also referenced a drinking water-injury circumstance in which a further opposing counsel — Ligman —had represented plaintiff Omar Escalona against Font’s client, Southern Fidelity. All through that litigation, Broward Circuit Decide Barbara McCarthy agreed to appoint a unique magistrate to preside above witness depositions, adhering to claims that Font belittled Ligman, and insinuated that the other lawyer’s consumer engaged in fraudulent perform through a deposition.
McCarthy declined to grant sanctions versus Font, but named his carry out “reprehensible and unprofessional.” In her get, the decide mentioned Font experienced issued 8 previous-moment subpoenas and had “required all those men and women to abate their every day life to show up at a hearing at which they were never named to testify.”
In that scenario, in accordance to the bar complaint Font’s customer, Southern Fidelity, experienced also accused the other side of fraud. It submitted a motion to strike the plaintiff’s pleadings for fraud on the court docket, but the choose determined normally. As an alternative, McCarthy uncovered Southern Fidelity’s allegations of fraud, concealment, phony statements and misrepresentations have been “without merit, manufactured in terrible religion and not supported by points or credible proof,” in accordance to the bar complaint.
Font then accused Ligman of currently being “lead conspirator” via a 9-page movement to withdraw that bundled 142 internet pages of attachments, most of which was not suitable to the Escalona situation, the bar’s grievance reported. Font also accused Ligman of poor perform in conditions that didn’t contain Ligman, the bar claimed.
Among the Font’s attachments was a petition for a stalking injunction that Raulerson filed towards Font in 2017. The Third District Court docket of Charm threw out that petition, acquiring the alleged perform didn’t sum to cyberstalking or harassment, but the belief claimed the allegations “could require unprofessional conduct or even conduct subject to self-control by The Florida Bar,” the ethics complaint pointed out.
The bar’s criticism stated Font served Raulerson with subpoenas in numerous circumstances, purchasing her to provide specified documents to court and warning that she could be held in contempt if she didn’t. But the bar termed that “frivolous use of the discovery system,” as Raulerson reported possessing no link to — or even any information of — the situations.
The bar also outlined five cases in which Font was chastised for misconduct. Among them: a obtaining from a exclusive magistrate that, “Mr. Font was not able or unwilling to conduct himself in a method which did not obstruct the deposition heading ahead in a sensible, skilled and productive way,” and opinions from Judge Rodriguez when Font claimed he was not adequately seen for a hearing. “Do not appear into this courtroom once more and blame other people for your very own failings,” Rodriguez reported, in accordance to transcripts.
‘Shamefully misleads any reader’
Font stressed that “the Florida Bar has nonetheless to provide substantive evidence in guidance of their place as offered in their responses to interrogatories.”
Font urged urged Everyday Enterprise Assessment readers to appear at associated litigation for context. He has also sued Barnard, Ligman and Raulerson, alleging malicious prosecution and tortious interference around their insurance policy lawsuits and the stalking petition.
Font also argued that a prior Every day Business Evaluate post about Raulerson’s stalking petition “grossly and shamefully misleads any reader (including the Florida Bar) into believing that I wasn’t fully vindicated by the demo court’s finding (as affirmed by the Third District Court docket of Appeals) of ‘no just cause’ for Raulerson’s, Ligman’s and Barnard’s exertion to demolish my name by way of an ex-parte stalking injunction that was fraudulently utilised from my business to obtain a grossly unethical gain.”
Barnard and Ligman declined to remark. Raulerson did not answer by deadline. They have denied any wrongdoing.
Read the bar grievance:
Go through more:
3 Broward Lawyers Disciplined by Florida Supreme Court docket
Anatomy of an Insurance policy Rip-off: Citizens House, Florida Bar Detail a Florida Lawyer’s Alleged Fraud