31 Aug Lawyer Bills Client for Watching True Crime TV
Cleverness helps make an effective attorney. But cleverness without ethics can lead to billing clients for watching bad television. It’s unclear whether the attorney charged for bon bons or wear and tear on the couch as well.
The Tennessee Supreme Court has suspended, Yarboro Sallee, from law practices for a year after she was accused of billing her clients hourly fees as as well as working on a contingency fee while doing her research by watching true crime shows, waiting around hospitals for medical bills, and basic internet research.
The problem began when parents of a victim who fell down a flight of stairs in October 2009, hired Sallee to help them pursue a wrongful death suit.
The death was found to be an accidental death, but the clients believed their daughter was forcibly pushed down the stairs by her husband to try and collect a $1 million insurance policy.
Once the parents claimed these allegations, Sallee estimated their case would cost somewhere near $100,000 in legal fees.
The clients made an oral agreement to pay Sallee an hourly rate of $250, which was claimed to be a discounted rate.
Soon after, a wrongful death suit was filed on behalf the victim’s parents. But the parents of the victim soon discovered that Sallee was doing minimal work.
According to the allegations, the lawyer spent several hours watching episodes of 48 Hours, waiting at hospitals for medical records, and doing basic internet research for strangulations.
When the clients demanded a written agreement of the contract including the legal fees, Sallee offered draft agreements requiring hourly charges in addition to a contingency.
The Tennessee Supreme Court was presented the case. That’s when the lawyer claimed the clients owed her $140,000 for the work she had fulfilled.
After much speculation and evidence brought forward, the court decided to suspend Sallee for a year from all law practices.