ORLANDO, FLORIDA – The attorney who filed
for an audit lawsuit on behalf of one of the victims of the June 12 Pulse nightclub
shooting incident has cut ties with his law firm.
Paul Zeniewicz, who
represents Pulse shooting survivor Jillian Amador, left Cohen Grossman –
Attorneys at Law in September. While the law firm refused to give out more
details on the exit of the controversial lawyer, it was revealed that the decision
was mutual. For his part, Zeniewicz himself assured the public that his exit
was voluntary and there was no disagreement between him and his former firm.
Zeniewicz came into the
spotlight when he agreed to represent Amador, a Pulse shooting survivor and his
co-worker at Cohen Grossman at the time. In their petition, they
requested an audit of the money received through the OneOrlando Fund. The
donations, which reached $29.5 million, were intended for the victims of the
Amador is a paralegal
at Cohen Grossman. She was one of the guests in the Pulse
nightclub on the night of the shooting. Amid the attack, she was able to flee
the scene and seek medical attention. However, most of her companions that night
died in the club.
According to court
documents, Amador and Zeniewicz wanted the organization handling the donations
to conduct an audit prior to the disbursement of the money. In their petition,
they cited the fund’s pledge to conduct the project with “transparency” as the
basis of their request. Zeniewicz further noted that the implementation of a pre-disbursement
audit would provide a clearer picture to the public and the beneficiaries. That
is, the organizers of the initiative would be able to provide proof that 100
percent of the money donated would be distributed to the Pulse victims’ families
and loved ones.
"In short, we
simply want to hold the fund and its administrator accountable to their stated
mission: to collect and distribute the funds in an open, fair and transparent
manner," Zeniewicz explained in an email sent to the Orlando
Sentinel. He added, "A pre(disbursement) audit is absolutely necessary
to make sure that the fund is distributing 100 percent of the monies collected
... to the victims and victims' families."
Apart from their
petition to conduct an audit on the funds collected, Amador and Zeniewicz also
raised questions on the credibility of OneOrlando fund administrator Kenneth
Feinberg. The lawyer further alleged that the amount of donations declared was
lower than the ones actually collected. Despite his claims, no evidence was
revealed to prove the statement. The lawsuit, which was initiated in August,
was dismissed in September.
attempt to delay victim compensation and tarnish the reputation of Mr. Feinberg
should be dismissed,” wrote the lawyer representing Feinberg in a motion, according
to WFTV. He added, "The court should admonish Ms. Amador's counsel for
his noncompliance with Florida law and his obligation as a Florida
Zeniewicz is reported
to have backed down from submitting an appeal over the dismissal of his
petition. According to Mike Amazonian
of WFTV, Amador’s representative plans to simply wait for the audit review
scheduled after the disbursement of funds to the affected families.