ATLANTA–Home Depot Inc. recently filed a motion in a northern district
of Georgia federal court to sanction Florida attorney Sam A. Miorelli in a
The company alleges in the motion that he, as “a member
of the settlement class and an attorney, injected himself into this litigation
by filing a lengthy and meritless objection to the settlement” in July 2016.
Further, the company is seeking reimbursement for travel
fees and attorney fees for the amount of “$3,808.631 ... as a sanction for his unreasonable and vexatious conduct in
refusing to appear for the depositions authorized by this Court’s orders.”
The Florida Record contacted Miorelli for a
comment on why he did not appear to be deposed on Sept. 9, 2016. He declined to
One thing is clear, however: Court-ordered depositions
are valid obligations for attorneys, according to Rule 4-3.4(c) of The Rules
Regulating The Florida Bar, Joy A. Bruner, the regulatory agency’s assistant
ethics counsel, told the Florida Record.
She declined to comment on Miorelli.
According to The Florida Bar’s Rule 4-3.4(c), “A lawyer
must not” in part (c) knowingly disobey an obligation under the rules of a
tribunal except for an open refusal based on an assertion that no valid
There is a precedent for disciplinary action for lawyers
who fail to follow court orders such as appearing for depositions, and violate
Rule 4-3.4(c), in the high court of the Sunshine State.
In “The Florida Bar v. Gersten, 707 So.2d 711 (Fla. 1998),
the Florida Supreme Court decision follows: An “Attorney who refused to testify
regarding a reported theft of his car after being granted immunity suspended
indefinitely until he complied with the court order and for one year after.
Attorney claimed his refusal to testify was permissible under 4-3.4(c), because
of his "open refusal based on an assertion that no valid obligation
exists." The Florida Supreme Court concluded that any attorney could evade
discipline for violating a court order indefinitely under that reading of the
“Attorney disciplinary issues are handled by state bar
associations or the appropriate disciplinary agency in the state where the
attorney is admitted to the bar,” Maria E. Frausto, an ABA spokeswoman, told
the Florida Record. That responsibility is for state bar associations or the
appropriate disciplinary agency in a state where a bar admits an attorney.
Asked if the ABA acknowledges the issue of serial
objectors and how it does that, Frausto declined to comment.
“Serial objectors’ business model is to stand in the way
of big class action settlements until plaintiffs’ lawyers get sick of waiting
for their fees and pay the objector to go away,” according to Alison Frankel of
Miorelli, representing himself, also objected to
class-action litigation involving Target Corp.’s 2013, data breach of an
estimated 110 million customers’ compromised financial and personal
information. The Eighth Circuit Court in Minnesota rejected Miorelli’s appeal
“due to lack of jurisdiction, since he was not a member of the class."
Further, Miorelli’s use of a Target credit card did not
fall into the class period. Yet in an email, he proposed a payment of
$2,325,000 to drop his objection to the class-action litigation settled for $39 million.
Miorelli was not alone objecting to the Target
settlement. Other attorney objectors were Melissa Holyoak, Theodore H. Frank,
Robert C. Black, III and Dennis Gibson.
Target declined a request to comment.