Florida Record

Monday, December 9, 2019

Lutz attorney reprimanded after not informing opposing side of client's death

Discipline

By Karen Kidd | Jul 29, 2019

General court 4

TALLAHASSEE (Florida Record) — Lutz attorney Linda Schneider Faingold has been publicly reprimanded following a July 17 Florida Supreme Court order over allegations she mishandled representation of an estate, according to a recent announcement by The Florida Bar.

"Faingold was also ordered to attend ethics school," the state bar said in its July 26 announcement of the discipline and the Supreme Court's order. "Faingold failed to disclose the death of her estate client to either the court or opposing party before a scheduled mediation. She was unaware of her duty to do so and was of the mistaken belief that, under Florida statute, the putative personal representative could take actions for the benefit of the estate prior to appointment by the court."

In its two-page order, the Supreme Court approved the uncontested referee's report filed in the matter before reprimanding Faingold and ordered her to pay a little more than $1,264 in costs. Florida court orders are not final until time to file a rehearing motion expires.

Faingold was admitted to the bar in Florida on April 28, 2005, according to her profile at the state bar website. No prior discipline before the state bar is listed on Faingold's state bar profile.

Faingold's reprimand follows a finding of probable cause by a state bar grievance committee, according to the consent judgment filed with the court. The consent judgment also includes Faingold's conditional guilty plea.

Allegations against Faingold stemmed from her representation of a client for estate planning, including assisting the client in obtaining veterans pension benefits and a surviving claimant on his late wife’s estate. Faingold worked with another attorney with more experience to assist in representing the client in litigation involved in his estate until the other attorney's death in April 2017, according to the consent judgment.

The client died two days prior to a court-ordered mediation but neither Faingold nor the other attorney informed opposing counsel of their client's passing, according to the consent judgment. The other attorney, acting as lead in the mediation, "took the position that the death was confidential, private and privileged and could not be disclosed," the consent judgment said. The other attorney has also since died.

Faingold admitted to violating professional conduct rules, including those regarding fairness to opposing party or counsel.

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