The Florida Bar v. Whitaker, No. 77837

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Florida
Writing for the CourtPER CURIAM; SHAW
Citation596 So.2d 672
Docket NumberNo. 77837
Decision Date09 April 1992
PartiesTHE FLORIDA BAR, Complainant, v. Hurley P. WHITAKER, Respondent. 596 So.2d 672, 17 Fla. L. Week. S240

Page 672

596 So.2d 672
THE FLORIDA BAR, Complainant,
v.
Hurley P. WHITAKER, Respondent.
No. 77837.
596 So.2d 672, 17 Fla. L. Week. S240
Supreme Court of Florida.
April 9, 1992.

Page 673

John F. Harkness, Jr., Executive Director and John T. Berry, Staff Counsel, Tallahassee, and Kristen M. Jackson, Bar Counsel, Orlando, for complainant.

R. Lee Dorough, Whitaker, Dorough and Whitaker, Orlando, for respondent.

PER CURIAM.

The Florida Bar petitions for review of a referee's report recommending that respondent, Hurley Whitaker, receive an admonishment and be placed on supervised probation for two years. We agree with the Bar that an admonishment is insufficient discipline in this case, and therefore issue a public reprimand. 1

The misconduct in this case involves respondent's representation of the client regarding the alleged sexual molestation of her three and one-half year old daughter by an employee of the nursery where the child had been placed in day care. In January 1986 the client signed a contingency fee agreement with respondent's law firm and respondent agreed to investigate the case but did not initially promise to file suit. Respondent eventually filed claims with the Florida Insurance Guaranty Association (FIGA) because the insurance company for the day care center had become insolvent. 2 However, respondent failed to file suit within the one-year statute of limitations for FIGA actions because he mistakenly thought the limitations period was four years. See Secs. 95.11(5)(d), 631.68, Fla.Stat. (1985). 3 Consequently, the client's suit against the day care center and its employee is now time-barred. 4

In addition to neglecting to file suit, the record demonstrates, and respondent admits, that respondent failed to properly communicate with his client throughout the case and did not keep her advised of matters transpiring in her case. Indeed, as the referee indicated, the only time the client could get a response to her repeated telephone calls and letters was after she would contact The Florida Bar.

After a hearing, the referee found respondent guilty of violating rule 4-1.3 (a lawyer shall act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client) and rule 4-1.4 (a lawyer shall keep a client reasonably informed about the status of a matter and promptly comply with reasonable requests for information) of the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar. The referee found that respondent had no prior disciplinary history....

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2 practice notes
  • The Florida Bar v. Lawless, No. 80117
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • June 2, 1994
    ...This Court has held that referees can recommend any permissible discipline that they deem appropriate. See The Fla. Bar v. Whitaker, 596 So.2d 672, 674 n. 2 (Fla.1992); The Fla. Bar v. Dubbeld, 594 So.2d 735, 737 (Fla.1992). Although these particular sanctions are not listed in Rule 3-5 of ......
  • Roberts v. State, No. 91-02998
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • June 25, 1993
    ...671 (Fla.1992), held that the "number of distinct lewd acts should be determinative" of the number of allowable convictions. Hernandez, 596 So.2d at 672. The supreme court specifically disapproved of this court's opinion in Bergen v. State, 552 So.2d 262 (Fla. 2d DCA 1989) which held that t......
2 cases
  • The Florida Bar v. Lawless, No. 80117
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • June 2, 1994
    ...This Court has held that referees can recommend any permissible discipline that they deem appropriate. See The Fla. Bar v. Whitaker, 596 So.2d 672, 674 n. 2 (Fla.1992); The Fla. Bar v. Dubbeld, 594 So.2d 735, 737 (Fla.1992). Although these particular sanctions are not listed in Rule 3-5 of ......
  • Roberts v. State, No. 91-02998
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • June 25, 1993
    ...671 (Fla.1992), held that the "number of distinct lewd acts should be determinative" of the number of allowable convictions. Hernandez, 596 So.2d at 672. The supreme court specifically disapproved of this court's opinion in Bergen v. State, 552 So.2d 262 (Fla. 2d DCA 1989) which held that t......

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