Yulee attorney Laura Healan Coggin has been suspended for 18 months following a Jan. 2 Florida Supreme Court amended order over allegations she made unauthorized charges to a client's credit card, according to a recent announcement by the Florida Bar.
Coggin had been authorized to charge $1,500 to the client's credit card as part of her representation in the client's divorce proceeding, according to the state bar's Jan. 29 announcement of the discipline and the state Supreme Court's order.
"Coggin subsequently made eight additional charges to the card without the client's permission, totaling $12,000," the state bar's announcement said. "In another matter, Coggin knowingly overcharged a client by $1,000."
Coggin also was directed to attend ethics school and to pay about $1,941 in costs, according to the state Supreme Court's two-page amended order.
In Florida, court orders are not final until time to file a rehearing motion expires. Filing such a motion would not alter the effective date of the Coggin's suspension.
Coggin was admitted to the Florida bar Sept. 25, 2008, according to her profile at the state bar website. Coggin has had no other discipline before the state bar for at least ten years, according to her profile.
The client in the divorce proceeding had hired Coggin in October 2016, according to the consent judgment filed with the court. The judgment also includes Coggin's conditional guilty plea.
The client authorized an initial charge to her credit card of $1,500 but then Coggin, without the client's knowledge or consent, made an additional eight charges the following month, according to the judgment. Coggin had not provided enough legal services to earn the amount she charged the client's credit card in November 2016 and the client had not agreed to any advance fees other than the initial charge, the judgment said.
After the client filed a fraud report with the Fernandina Beach police, Coggin's father repaid the client $14,100 and the client executive a release in favor of Coggin and her firm, according to the judgment.