TALLAHASSEE — Fort Myers attorney Esmond Jude Lewis faces suspension following a Dec. 20 Florida Supreme Court order over allegations arising from a single client matter, according to a recent announcement by The Florida Bar.
"After collecting fees for his services, Lewis failed to diligently pursue a client's claim against a city utility company, failed to properly communicate with the client and failed to timely respond to the bar's official inquiries regarding the grievance filed by the client," the state bar said in its Jan. 31 announcement of the discipline and the Supreme Court's order.
In its two-page order, the Supreme Court approved the uncontested referee's report filed in the matter before suspending Lewis for 30 days and ordering him to pay $4,000 in restitution to his client and a little more than $2,831 in costs. Lewis' suspension will be effective 30 days from the date of the court's order to allow him time to close out his practice and protect his existing clients' interests, according to the high court's order.
Florida court orders are not final until time to file a rehearing motion expires. Filing such a motion does not alter the effective date of Lewis' suspension.
Lewis was admitted to the bar in Florida on Oct. 26, 2004, according to his profile at the state bar website. No prior discipline before the state bar is listed on Lewis's state bar profile.
In his answer to the state bar's formal complaint, Lewis said he continued to communicate and work for and with his client, who retained Lewis in May 2016, even after the client filed his complaint with the state bar in April 2017.
The state bar's charges against Lewis were filed almost a year ago. Lewis was alleged to have violated professional conduct rules, including those regarding diligence and promptness, keeping a client reasonably informed and failing to timely respond to a state bar inquiry.
In June 2018, Lewis and his client entered a stipulation of guilt to the allegations, which the referee approved.