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Florida Bar v. Barrett

Supreme Court of Florida
897 So.2d 1269 (2005)


Facts

David Barrett (defendant) was a senior managing partner at the law firm of Barrett, Hoffman, and Hall, P.A. (BH&H). Barrett hired Chad Cooper as a paralegal to bring in new clients. To find new clients, Barrett formed a plan for Cooper to access the emergency rooms of hospitals to solicit patients and their families. Barrett paid for Cooper to attend a hospital chaplain’s course to gain access. Cooper met Molly Glass’s family while her son was being treated in the hospital after a car accident. Cooper, who was dressed like a pastor, identified himself as a chaplain and offered to pray with the Glass family. Cooper gave the Glass family a BH&H business card. After her son died, Molly retained BH&H in a wrongful-death case that was eventually settled. Over a number of years, Cooper solicited at least 21 other clients for BH&H and received large bonuses from settlements. Barrett eventually fired Cooper because he was worried that BH&H’s conduct would be discovered. However, Cooper continued to solicit clients for Barrett even after being fired. The Florida Bar (Bar) (plaintiff) filed a complaint against Barrett for misconduct. A referee found that Barrett was guilty of violating the Bar’s Rules of Professional Conduct through solicitation, sharing fees, and deceitful conduct. The referee recommended that Barrett be suspended for one year. The Bar appealed the referee’s findings, arguing that Barrett should be disbarred. Barrett cross-appealed, arguing that a 21-day suspension would be more appropriate.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Per Curiam)

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  • A “yes” or “no” answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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