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Business Observer Friday, Nov. 14, 2003 14 years ago

Legal Briefs (Tampa edition)

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This week's items: Former employee files claim against defunct Woodruff & Jeeves PAMurray Silverstein PA seeks fees from Perch Inc. Tew, Barnes files complaint against Manuel Elkind and E&L Realty Clearwater law firm files claim for fees

Legal Briefs (Tampa edition)

Former employee files claim against defunct Woodruff & Jeeves PA

John M. Della Costa Jr. filed a claim for wages Oct. 29 in Pinellas civil court against his former employer, the defunct Woodruff & Jeeves PA. Thomas M. Woodruff PA, as successor to Woodruff & Jeeves PA, was named as a defendant; as was Woodruff, individually.

Della Costa seeks $15,000.

Della Costa alleges that Woodruff agreed to pay him 30% of all attorney fees generated from cases assigned to him by the firm or that were brought in through advertising paid for by W&J, and 40% of all fees generated by cases he brought to the firm through his own efforts.

Della Costa was paid in accordance with that agreement throughout most of his employment with the firm, according to the complaint.

However, in 2003, according to the complaint, "Woodruff began engaging in an ongoing pattern of behavior that was erratic, hostile and disruptive to the operation of the Woodruff & Jeeves PA and contrary to the orderly administrative of the business of the law firm."

Della Costa claims Woodruff transferred $1 million from the firm's trust account to a newly created trust that only he could access. Woodruff declined comment for this article.

Della Costa and Scott R. Jeeves, along with the support staff eventually left the firm.

Della Costa believes Woodruff continues to deposit attorney fees generated by him during his time with Woodruff & Jeeves into the new trust account. Woodruff has refused to provide Della Costa with an accounting of cases settled and/or won following Della Costa's separation from the firm, according to the complaint.

Della Costa, represented by Randall V. Shanafelt, seeks award of wages, interest and attorney's fees.

Murray Silverstein PA seeks

fees from Perch Inc.

The St. Petersburg law firm of Murray B. Silverstein PA filed a complaint in Pinellas civil court around Oct. 28, claiming breach of contract against Perch Inc. From November 1999 through April 2003, Robert Gordon, president of Perch, hired Silverstein to represent Perch Inc. in various matters, according to the complaint. Despite multiple demands for payment, Perch has refused to pay attorney fees of $51,942, according to the complaint. Silverstein seeks payment of fees, plus pre- and post-judgment interest.

Tew, Barnes files complaint against Manuel Elkind and E&L Realty

The Clearwater law firm of Tew, Barnes & Atkinson LLP filed a complaint Oct. 28 in Pinellas civil court against Manuel Elkind and E&L Realty Associates LTD.

In August 2000, Elkind, as general partner of E&L Realty Associates, hired Tew Barnes Atkinson. He agreed in writing to assume responsibility for payment of attorney fees if E&L did not pay, according to the complaint. According to excerpts of the fee agreement filed with the complaint, Elkind agreed to pay hourly rates from $135 to $300 for attorneys and $115 to $125 for support staff.

However, he failed to pay monthly bills rendered by the firm, according to the complaint. The law firm seeks payment of $13,405.79 in fees and $1,398.77 in costs for a total of $14,804.56.

Clearwater law firm

files claim for fees

The Clearwater law firm of Harper, Kynes, Geller & Buford PA filed a claim Oct. 28 in Pinellas civil court against North Mandalay Investment Group Inc., also of Clearwater.

The law firm seeks $1,116 for legal services rendered in March. Mandalay has already paid $1,116 to cover half of the original bill, but refuses to pay the final half, according to the claim, which was filed by attorney Clark Greenleaf.

- Hali White

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