Florida Record

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Fort Myers attorney suspended for alleged commingling

Discipline

By Karen Kidd | Jul 29, 2019


TALLAHASSEE — Fort Myers attorney Rosemary Anne Hill-Baitson has been suspended following a June 27 Florida Supreme Court order over allegations stemming from a foreclosure action that began about six years ago, according to a recent announcement by The Florida Bar.

"While representing a couple fighting a foreclosure, Hill-Baitson failed to maintain a trust account, made deliberate and knowing misrepresentations to the presiding judge and failed to communicate with her clients the basis for her fees," the state bar said in its July 26 announcement of the discipline and the court's order.

In its two-page order, the Supreme Court approved the uncontested referee's report filed before suspending Hill-Baitson for 18 months and ordered her to pay almost $6,616 in costs. Hill-Baitson's suspension was effective 30 days from the date of the court's order to allow time to close her practice and protect her existing clients' interests, according to the high court's order.

Hill-Baitson also will be required to attend the state bar's ethics school and trust account workshop, according to the state bar's announcement and the referee's report.

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 Hill-Baitson's suspension.

Hill-Baitson was admitted to the bar in Florida on Sept. 20, 2004, according to her profile at the state bar website. No prior discipline before the state bar is listed on Hill-Baitson's state bar profile.

The state bar filed its formal complaint against Hill-Baitson in September 2018 over the foreclosure action in which she began representing the couple in December 2012, according to the 28-page referee's report.

The referee found that Hill-Baitson "improperly commingled" her clients' funds with her own and that she "knew or should have known that she was dealing improperly with the [clients]' funds," the report said. "Suspension is appropriate when a lawyer knows or should know that she is dealing improperly with client property and causes injury or potential injury to a client."

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