Legal Ethics

Colo. Lawyer Told to Pay Client $145K; a 'Big Victory,' He Says

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A Colorado personal injury lawyer who was ordered by a jury to pay a former client $145,000 says the verdict represents a “big victory” for him, because the plaintiff was seeking much more.

However, the former client, Shawna Jimenez, 40, says she is happy with the award against attorney Franklin Azar, his law firm and another attorney who works for the firm, even though Jimenez had sought $500,000, reports the Gazette. Jimenez contended she was pressured by Azar attorney Nancy Fisher into settling an auto accident case for $25,000, much less than it was worth.

“Azar’s frequent commercials have made him arguably one of the most recognizable names of local television. His ads, in which a hammer pounds out ‘The Strong Arm’ into a sheet of metal, boast he can get the most money from insurance companies,” the Colorado Springs newspaper writes.

Jimenez was awarded $85,000 for professional negligence by Azar and Fisher, an additional $35,000 for Fisher’s breach of professional responsibility and $25,000 for the firm’s negligent misrepresentation to her.

“I think the jury was very upset with the ‘settlement mill’ approach where the clients’ needs and wants are not paramount,” says Patric LeHouillier, a lawyer representing Jimenez. “They were upset by the Azar business model.”

Azar says he plans to appeal the verdict. His firm has three offices in suburban Denver, Colorado Springs and Pueblo, Colo.

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