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Florida Bar v. Dunagan

Supreme Court of Florida
731 So. 2d 1237 (1999)


Facts

In 1992, Mr. Dunagan (defendant), an attorney, represented William and Paula Leucht in the acquisition of a restaurant business. In registering the name of the business, Mr. Dunagan mistakenly omitted Mrs. Leucht’s name as an owner. In later dealings involving the business, Mr. Dunagan represented that Mr. Leucht was the sole owner of the business. In 1996, Mr. Dunagan sent a letter to the Port Orange Police Department whose jurisdiction included one of the Leuchts’ restaurants. The letter stated that Mr. Leucht was the sole owner of the restaurant and that he intended to terminate two employees and to prevent them from returning to the premises. The letter indicated that the police might be called upon if anything got out of hand. Several days later, Mr. Dunagan filed a divorce petition on behalf of Mr. Leucht. Mr. Dunagan did not seek Mrs. Leucht’s consent to represent her husband. A few days later, Mrs. Leucht was told by a restaurant employee that Mr. Leucht was the business’s sole owner and that Mrs. Leucht was not to enter the premises. She went to the restaurant nevertheless and was forcibly removed by the police and arrested for disorderly conduct. She insisted to the police that she was a co-owner of the business. The trial judge overseeing the Leuchts’ divorce ordered that the restaurant business be distributed equally between the couple. Mrs. Leucht filed a malpractice suit against Mr. Dunagan. The Florida Bar (plaintiff) brought a disciplinary action against him. After a hearing, the referee issued findings and recommended a 90-day suspension. Mr. Dunagan appealed.

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Holding and Reasoning (<i>Per Curiam</i>)

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