f/k/a archives . . . real opinions & real haiku

January 15, 2004

Curbing Multiple Billing in San Jose

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 10:59 pm

trashman  California District Court Judge Gregory Ward will soon have to decide whether the City of San Jose must pay a $841,000 bill for legal services performed by 79-year-old attorney Robert Mezzetti Sr., in a condemnation case the City lost.  If Judge Ward needs any help, I’d be pleased to assist in tossing the bill into the trash and carrying it to the curb.


You see, when Mezzetti’s firm did an hour of work on the case, it billed multiple tenants $300 each per hour — fourteen separate clients.   When the Mazzetti firm did four hours of work, therefore, it billed each of the fourteen clients $1200 ($16,800 for a half day of work).  Mazzetti says: “The way things are done depends completely on the fee arrangement and the agreement with the parties.”   Well, each of his clients might be dying to pay him for his success in stopping the mall condemndation, but the City (and its taxpayers) certainly should not have to be so generous.   After closely looking at the hours submitted, and the reasonableness of the $300 per hour fee, I’d suggest that Judge Ward multiply the approved number of actual hours by the approved hourly rate.


The reporter states in the article that:



“Legal ethics experts say the practice of multiple billing is not unheard of — but is generally frowned upon. A 1993 American Bar Association ethics opinion said that absent a contrary understanding, a lawyer should not bill more time than he or she spends on a matter. “A lawyer who spends four hours of time on behalf of three clients has not earned 12 billable hours,” the opinion says.”


Meanwhile, the responsibile persons might want to check out California’s rules of attorney conduct to see how lawyer Mazzetti’s multiple billing shapes up under Rule 4-200.   Among the factors to include, when deciding the “conscionability of a fee” are:


  • The amount of the fee in proportion to the value of the services performed;
  • The relative sophistication of the member and the client;
  • The likelihood, if apparent to the client, that the acceptance of the particular employment will preclude other employment by the member.
  • The experience, reputation, and ability of the member or members performing the services.
  • The time and labor required.
  • The informed consent of the client to the fee.

May lawyer Mazzetti receive everything he deserves.  [This has not been a good year, so far, for the reputation of the legal profession — nor for my resolution to stay as positive as possible. 01-16-04 e.g., this car accident insurance fraud indictment in Queens, NY, (New York Lawyer, “Two NY Lawyers Indicted for Fraud,” 01-15-04)]

Curbing Multiple Billing in San Jose

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 10:59 pm

trashman  California District Court Judge Gregory Ward will soon have to decide whether the City of San Jose must pay a $841,000 bill for legal services performed by 79-year-old attorney Robert Mezzetti Sr., in a condemnation case the City lost.  If Judge Ward needs any help, I’d be pleased to assist in tossing the bill into the trash and carrying it to the curb.


You see, when Mezzetti’s firm did an hour of work on the case, it billed multiple tenants $300 each per hour — fourteen separate clients.   When the Mazzetti firm did four hours of work, therefore, it billed each of the fourteen clients $1200 ($16,800 for a half day of work).  Mazzetti says: “The way things are done depends completely on the fee arrangement and the agreement with the parties.”   Well, each of his clients might be dying to pay him for his success in stopping the mall condemndation, but the City (and its taxpayers) certainly should not have to be so generous.   After closely looking at the hours submitted, and the reasonableness of the $300 per hour fee, I’d suggest that Judge Ward multiply the approved number of actual hours by the approved hourly rate.


The reporter states in the article that:



“Legal ethics experts say the practice of multiple billing is not unheard of — but is generally frowned upon. A 1993 American Bar Association ethics opinion said that absent a contrary understanding, a lawyer should not bill more time than he or she spends on a matter. “A lawyer who spends four hours of time on behalf of three clients has not earned 12 billable hours,” the opinion says.”


Meanwhile, the responsibile persons might want to check out California’s rules of attorney conduct to see how lawyer Mazzetti’s multiple billing shapes up under Rule 4-200.   Among the factors to include, when deciding the “conscionability of a fee” are:


  • The amount of the fee in proportion to the value of the services performed;
  • The relative sophistication of the member and the client;
  • The likelihood, if apparent to the client, that the acceptance of the particular employment will preclude other employment by the member.
  • The experience, reputation, and ability of the member or members performing the services.
  • The time and labor required.
  • The informed consent of the client to the fee.

May lawyer Mazzetti receive everything he deserves.  [This has not been a good year, so far, for the reputation of the legal profession — nor for my resolution to stay as positive as possible. 01-16-04 e.g., this car accident insurance fraud indictment in Queens, NY, (New York Lawyer, “Two NY Lawyers Indicted for Fraud,” 01-15-04)]

FTC Creates Web Cramming Hotline for Epixtar Victims

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 11:33 am

The Federal Trade Commission today announced the creation of a hotline for consumers who believe they were victims of an alleged Web “cramming” scam operated by National Online Services, Inc., Liberty Online Services, Inc., B2B Advantage formerly known as SBA Online, Inc., and Ameripages, Inc. a/k/a Amerilinc, Inc.


“The FTC’s hotline, which will open shortly at 202-326-2998, will advise consumers on what steps to take if they receive a notice from the defendants, and what they should do to obtain a refund.”


Note that the FTC also has an e-brochure to help small businesses avoid web service scams:  Website Woes: Avoiding Web Service Scams



  • Continued vigilance by the FTC in the area of web and telecom scams should help alleviate the concerns raised by Jerry Lawson in his comments to this posting. 

How to Complain About a Judge

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 10:59 am

mustache judge  Legal reform group HALT has issued a revised (2004) version of “Complaining About a Judge,” from its Everyday Law Series.  As they say, it’s an “easy-to-read primer [that] explains the basics of how the judicial conduct system works, how a complaint is handled and what you can expect from the system. “

Powered by WordPress