TALLAHASSEE — Pensacola attorney James M. Corrigan was placed on a suspension following the review of a Petition for Emergency Suspension filed with the Florida Supreme Court.
The order for suspension was given April 7 and was set to remain in effect until a further order is given. The attorney had allegedly been misappropriating client funds, according to the Florida Bar.
Corrigan is accused of “causing great public harm” through his conduct, described in the petition as a Ponzi-like scheme in which he “robs Peter to pay Paul,” according to the petition. Corrigan allegedly issued hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of client trust money to himself and later to other clients to cover for the funds he no longer had available for them. In one instance, the attorney issued 10 checks to himself for a total of $106,160.74, the petition states. The checks were issued with no client information or the documentation listed a client who had no funds in the client trust at the time.
Attorney Steve E. Quinnell reviewed Corrigan’s trust account in a case in which Corrigan received settlement funds on behalf of Quinnell's client. Corrigan was issued $700,000 for Quinnell’s client when his client trust had a balance of just under $394.33. Corrigan dispersed the funds to himself and another law firm that had worked on the case and later issued a check to Quinnell’s client for $47,500.23.
Corrigan allegedly used this account and, therefore, Quinnell’s client’s funds to issue a $21,167.15 check to a person unrelated to the case. Corrigan also allegedly paid himself a total of $260,461 when he was only entitled to $238,333.33, according to court records. Quinnell later reviewed the account and determined his client was still owed $129,238.96, which he requested. At the time of filing, the funds still had not been paid.
Corrigan will not be able to practice law until further order is issued. He graduated from the University of Florida State College of Law in 1973 and was admitted to the Florida Bar in May 1996. He had no prior record of public discipline stemming from the past 10 years.