What can you do when your lawyer ignores you? 2

Remember? Dinkes & Schwitzer is the law firm I retained to pursue a case against a neighbor whose badly maintained sidewalk caused a broken bone in my foot.

I’ve related here how lackadaisical I have been about this pro forma lawsuit, now in its fourth year. However, my failure to require the law firm to behave responsibly to me — keeping me informed of any events concerning the case and sending me all case documents, for instance — did not give them a waiver of their professional duties.

So when I did not hear from them about the Medicare business [“What can you do when your lawyer ignores you? Part 1,” February 4, 2012], I wrote to the name partner of the firm, William Schwitzer. After all, the first time I wrote to Schwitzer [“How to find a lawyer [or maybe not],” October 4, 2011] was virtually the only time I got a response from the firm. So, I figured, why not rouse this guy to action again?

Here’s the letter. Hope you get as much of a kick out of it as I did when I was writing it:

CERTIFIED MAIL; RETURN RECEIPT REQUESTED
                                January 25, 2012
William Schwitzer, Esq.
Dinkes & Schwitzer
112 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10016

Dear Mr. Schwitzer:

You may recall that in October, 2011, I wrote directly to you about my case because I could not get anyone at your firm to respond to my e-mails. At that time you caused Marc Mauser to get in touch with me.

Once again – as you’ll see from the copies of the two e-mails I wrote to him on January 5 and January 19 – I can’t get a response from your law firm, so I’m writing directly to you and enclosing the material you need to close my case.

[Here I detailed everything that had happened with Medicare, and enclosed the package I’d sent Medicare, as well as copies of my e-mails to Mauser, e-mails he never responded to.]

The amount this lawsuit will owe Medicare is $759.82.

Additionally, the Medicare “help person” informed me that you, my lawyers, have not yet filed an authorization or an executed retainer agreement with them. You need to do this.

But I shouldn’t have to tell you that.

What I do need to tell you is before we finalize this case … I require that your law firm does the following, all of which should have been done in the course of the case but was not.

During the course of the litigation your firm should have regularly been sending me case documents. But I have never received from you a single document related to my case. I now ask that you send me my entire file. I will list what I insist on getting but feel free not to limit your package to these documents:

•   The retainer agreement. Several years ago, when I discovered Bill Hamel had not given me a copy of the retainer when I signed it on February 8, I called your offices and found a paralegal who e-mailed me a copy. To my surprise, I found that our retainer agreement was an old Blumberg form. It is incomplete and isn’t executed by your firm. You might want to take a look at it. It certainly isn’t clear to me that we have a valid retainer agreement.

•    The Retainer Statement you filed with the O[ffice of] C[ourt] A[dministration].

•    I was told that a Notice of Claim against the City was filed. I never received a copy. I want one.

•    Although I obediently showed up at your offices on August 19, 2008 to review and sign the original Verified Complaint, I was not provided with a copy … of my own complaint. I want one.

•    Since I myself made a copy of my 5/14/08 50(h) deposition transcript, you needn’t re-send it to me.

•    Although I did receive (for review and signature before a notary) my February 4, 2010 EBT transcript, I did not make a copy. I want one.

•    While I don’t need copies of the medical records provided by my podiatrist … I do want whatever report was written by the defendants’ podiatrist … whom, at your office’s instructions, I saw twice.

•    On January 21, 2011, I was told to come to your office and sign a new complaint. The explanation for why, after nearly three years, there was a new complaint – instead of an amended complaint – was unsatisfactory, to say the least. But I signed it. I have a copy; you needn’t send me another one.

•    On November 3, 2011, I kept an appointment with Mauser at your offices. During our meeting, he gave me the defendants’ settlement offer of $30,000. Although I thought it low, I signed the agreement. I did not get a copy of that agreement. I want it.

•    At that same meeting on November 3, Marc informed me that the defendant had been deposed. I was never informed of that deposition and was not invited to it.

It is difficult for me to understand how a plaintiff’s lawyer can competently depose a defendant without first reviewing the case with the plaintiff and then having the plaintiff in that deposition for factual support. Moreover, it is my right as a plaintiff to be at all depositions concerning my case. I want a copy of any and all defendant depositions and exhibits.

•    Copies of all correspondence with the defendants.

•    Copies of all discovery demands and responses – both yours and the defendants’. I’d also like returned to me the photographs of the accident site I provided Bill Hamel at our initial meeting.

•    And before we settle this, I want an advance copy of the closing statement. Since I used to prepare closing statements, I know what should be on it. I also know what should not be on it: whatever fees you paid the outside lawyers hired to shepherd me through my two depositions. Their names are [RM] and [SN]. Your firm chose not to have me represented by an in-house lawyer whose time would be accounted for in your share of the final settlement. I should not have to pay for outside lawyers. Their fees are your costs alone.

Today is actually the fourth anniversary of the date on which a neighbor’s bad sidewalk broke a bone in my right foot. I suppose you can sense that I’ve lost my esprit and humor over my dealings with your law firm. So let’s get this wrapped up.

Now do you think I heard from these people? You bet I did. I’ll tell you what happened next.

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