MIAMI (CN) - Argentinean attorneys claim a Miami law firm stiffed them for a 23 percent consulting fee from a $410 million consumer class action settlement "and one of the largest attorney's fee awards in such a case, over $100 million."
The class action involved U.S. banks' chronologically rearranging debit transactions from largest to smallest, to generate "billions of dollars of additional overdraft fees."
Raponi & Hunter Abogados claim Jeremy Alters "sold off or assigned interests in the recovery from the class actions lawsuits to fund his law firm and/or his lavish, extravagant lifestyle."
They also claim: "On December 28, 2011, The Florida Supreme Court suspended Alters from the practice of law, until further order of the court, in regard to the pending Florida Bar complaint against Alters for trust account misappropriation."
Raponi & Hunter sued Alters Morelli Ranter fka the Alters Law Firm fka Alters, Boldt, Brown, Rash, Culmo; Jeremy W. Alters, Bruce S. Rogow PA and Bruce S. Rogow in Miami-Dade County Court.
According to the Argentinean partners, Osvaldo Raponi and Jaime Hunter: "In August, 2008, Raponi, an expert in banking law, and Hunter, brought to Alters and his firm the most significant case in Alters' legal career, litigation over the unfair assessment of overdraft fees by banking institutions in the United States and elsewhere that chronologically altered the order of debit transactions to highest to lowest, resulting in billions of dollars of additional overdraft fees. This was the first consumer banking class action in which Alters or his firm were involved. Raponi and his firm were the architects of the claims brought by Alters, which resulted in one of the largest consumer class action settlements in history, $410 million, and one of the largest attorney's fee awards in such a case, over $100 million.
"Not only did Raponi and Hunter bring this case to Alters and his firm, Raponi also provided important and valuable contributions to Alters in pursuing the litigation. In a deposition given in litigation involving the Argentinean attorney [Adrian Campos] who introduced Alters to Raponi and Hunter, Alters acknowledged that Raponi consulted in the overdraft case in a 'meaningful way that deserves compensation for his work,' that he has done work, '(a) lot of it,' that Raponi provided information 'that we probably couldn't have gotten elsewhere that benefitted the common benefit (sic) of the MDL going forward,' and that 'we have met with him and spoken to him on countless occasions about the case, about the future of the case, about the press, about everything. And that was an ongoing working relationship' Alters also acknowledged that Raponi was able to provide information about the case, that he followed the case, 'not just ours but others'; and that he provided helpful insight into what the case was about or where to look for things.
"In exchange for originating the case and providing this assistance, Alters agreed that Raponi and Hunter would receive 23 percent of his firms' fee from this litigation.
"Years later, after the Bank of America case settled, Alters betrayed Raponi and
Hunter and misrepresented that the fee agreement was unenforceable and that they could receive a mere fraction of the agreed upon fee as 'consultants,' not as foreign lawyers, or they would receive nothing at all," according to the complaint. (Parentheses, but not brackets, in complaint.)