Legal Ethics

PI Law Firm Pulls Ads After Suspension of Two Name Partners for Taking Files from Ex-Employer


TV viewers in Kentucky and Florida won’t be seeing ads for the Winters & Yonker law firm for the next few months.

The firm, known as Winters Yonker & Kannady in Louisville, pulled its ads after the suspension of name partners William Winters and Marc Yonker, the Louisville Courier-Journal reports. Winters was suspended for or 91 days and Yonker for 60 days for taking client files from lawyer Richard Mulholland, who previously employed them.

A referee had found that Yonker took client files from the Mulholland firm over a lunch period and had them copied for his own personal use, according to the Sept. 6 decision (PDF) suspending the lawyers by the Florida Supreme Court. The referee also found that Winters kept control of less than 10 files after leaving the law firm.

“The bar argues that Winters and Yonker’s ‘personal use’ of the Mulholland firm’s client files constituted acts of criminal theft,” the court said. “We agree.”

In a civil suit, Mulholland had also alleged that Winters used a paralegal, his then-girlfriend, to hack into Mulholland’s computer. Mullholand was awarded $2 million, but collected only from Yonker. The amount was variously reported to be $750,000 and $800,000. Winters appealed and won a ruling that Mullholand was not entitled to damages because causation wasn’t established.

Kenneth Lawrence Marvin, staff counsel for the Florida State Bar, told the Courier-Journal that the lawyers may not advertise in Florida or seek new business during their suspensions. Louisville partner Matthew Kannady said the firm also pulled its ads in Kentucky “because we didn’t want to step on any toes in Florida.”

Prior coverage:

TBO.com: “Tampa attorneys Winters and Yonker suspended”

ABAJournal.com: “After $2M Verdict, 2 Fla. Attorneys Now Face Civil Theft Ethics Case re Bitter Law Firm Breakup”

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