TALLAHASSEE — Suspended Fort Myers attorney Joseph Patrick Gaeta has been disbarred following a Florida Supreme Court order over allegations he abandoned his practice, according to a recent announcement by the Florida Bar.
Gaeta's disbarment was effective immediately, according to the state bar's Jan. 31 announcement of the discipline and the Supreme Court's order.
"Gaeta abandoned his law practice and clients, failed to complete the legal services for which he was hired, and allowed the statute of limitations to expire in 14 personal injury cases without settlement and without communicating the status of the cases to the clients," the announcement said.
In its single-page order, the Supreme Court approved the uncontested referee's report filed in the matter before disbarring Gaeta and ordered him to pay a little more than $1,758 in costs.
Attorneys disbarred in Florida generally cannot reapply for admission for five years and must pass an extensive process that includes a rigorous background check and retaking the bar exam.
Florida court orders usually are not final until time to file a rehearing motion expires but, in this case, the high court said in its order against Gaeta that no motion for rehearing would be allowed. Filing such a motion would not have altered the effective date of Gaeta's suspension.
Gaeta was admitted to the bar in Florida on Dec. 31, 2002, according to his profile at the state bar website. No prior discipline before the state bar is listed on Gaeta's state bar profile.
The state bar allegedly discovered last March that Gaeta had abandoned his practice, hadn't paid his office rent for months and stopped communicating with his clients and landlord, according to the state bar's 14-page petition for emergency suspension. An inventory attorney appointed by the state bar found 14 unsettled cases and files with expired statute of limitations and one case with an expired statute of limitations but with Med-Pay funds held in a trust account.
Gaeta was indefinitely suspended in June.