Coconut Grove attorney faces suspension for selling judgment without client's permission

By Karen Kidd | Sep 7, 2018

The Florida Supeme Court recommended suspension.  

TALLAHASSEE — The Florida Supreme Court recommended suspension of Coconut Grove attorney Larry Joseph McGuinness over allegations he sold a client's judgment to a third party.

McGuinness' 30-day suspension will be effective 30 days from the date of the court's Aug. 23 order, the Florida Bar said in its announcement of the order. He must also pay restitution of $10,000 to a client.

"McGuinness failed to communicate adequately with his client and he failed to obtain the client’s permission before he sold her allegedly uncollectible judgment to a third party," the state bar said.

Court orders are not final until time to file a rehearing motion expires. Filing such a motion does not alter the effective date of McGuinness's suspension.

McGuinness was admitted to the bar in Florida on Sept. 21, 1989, according to his profile at the state bar website. No prior discipline before the state bar is listed on McGuinness's profile.

McGuinness waived his right to have the matter considered by a grievance committee and stipulated to probable case in the case, according to the consent judgment filed with the court. The consent judgment also includes Gonzalez's conditional guilty plea.

Allegations against McGuinness stemmed from his representation of a whistleblower who claimed to have been wrongfully terminated. McGuinness' client was awarded a judgment of more than $24,500.

"Thereafter, [McGuinness] received an offer to sell the judgment for $10,000 in cash," the consent judgment said. "[McGuinness] avers that he attempted to call [his client] to obtain her permission, and that he also sent her a letter, but that she did not respond."

The client claimed she received no communications from McGuinness.

McGuinness sold the judgment "believing it was in his client's best interest, since the former employer had no collectible assets," the consent judgment. He agreed to send his former client the entire amount, without deducting his own fee, as part of the consent judgment.

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