Says so right here.
After reading SFL's post regarding Judge Altonaga and swapping sides, I was inspired and working feverishly on a post better suited for Friday afternoon.
But Jules ran this story and it killed the mood.
I admit that like many, I don't really read the Daily Business Review I just look at the pictures and the headlines. My first thought, being the jaded South Florida civil litigator that I am, was "people can say whatever they want in a lawsuit." The eleven (ELEVEN!) malpractice lawsuits represent people seeking a payday from 20 million in malpractice coverage. Nothing more, right? You have to dig into this one. When I read the article, I couldn't believe what I was reading so I called my friend Johnny and I said Johnny, what the....
First, I've always been intrigued in a Scott Rothstein kind of way at the Ruden "investment banking division," Ruden Capital Partners, run by former Ruden lawyer Patrick Moran. The idea behind the division I guess was that Ruden's lawyers would approach clients about investing in the fund and collect investment banking fees as well as legal fees. It strikes me that there is temptation and mischief inherent in such a structure. Which is exactly the position of the Southeast Florida chapter of the Alzheimer's Disease and Related Disorders Association, as reported here. Seems Moran, then the Chairman of the Group, and his wife, the Board's secretary, used their check writing authority to borrow 1.1 million of the group's money and invest it in their daughter's start up company gogoddess.com, as well as - you guessed it! - Ruden Capital Partners. According to the article, "a month later Ruden and Bruce Bernstein, a principal of the law firm's financial arm advised the board that they should invest in the fund. One of their selling points was that it had recently received a $1.1 million infusion of money. What they didn't say was that the money came from the association's account." Chutzpah! Bernstein apparently has folded up his tent and resurfaced in New Orleans as CEO of an emergency water purification company. Lawsuits? Where are the Bar complaints? The grand jury subpoenas? Wiffy, you there? Where is Mary Barzee Flores when you need her?
And that's just one of several malpractice suits charging that Ruden and Moran breached their fiduciary duties. "Another suit arose out of legal advice provided by Moran and other Ruden attorneys about a $2 million loan made to a South Florida man, Milton Pinder, to be secured by mortgages on undeveloped property in the Bahamas. According to the suit, it turned out the borrower had been declared incapacitated, was the subject of a guardianship proceeding and never held title to the Bahamian property, and a relative used fraudulent and invalid powers of attorney to enter into the loan agreements." Another day, another dollar in the South Florida legal community, right? I bet the amount of Ruden's fees for facilitating that investment were sizeable, eh?
Hey! Wait! Didn't Marc Nurik used to work at Ruden!?
Boy, oh Boy. If Judge Altonaga spanked Schleppin, can you imagine what would happen if someone pulled these Ruden shenanigans in a case pending before her. Or better still, before Judge Ungaro. If you have witnessed Judge Ungaro give a good spanking, you know it can be painful. (Sorry - I've been distracted since attending a book signing this weekend at Books and Books.)