Monday, 31 March 2003 09:00

Bar takes action against Beverly Hills lawyers

The State Bar of California announced in mid March that it has filed a petition to enroll inactive three attorneys from the Beverly Hills firm Trevor Law Group who allegedly defrauded small business owners under Business & Professions Code Section 17200. 

At a press conference, the State Bar's Chief Trial Counsel, Mike Nisperos, said the petition alleges numerous violations of the Rules of Professional Conduct and the State Bar Act.

In carrying out the scheme to obtain money fraudulently from small business owners, many from the minority community, the petition also alleges the attorneys filed baseless lawsuits, committed mail fraud, violated court orders and engaged in improper fee splitting and theft by false pretenses.

"We believe the evidence that we have discovered in the course of this investigation clearly establishes a substantial threat to the public if the Trevor Law Group is allowed to continue this pattern of conduct," Nisperos said. "On the basis of the evidence, we will ask the court to enroll them on inactive status so that they are not able to practice law pending a full disciplinary hearing."

The petition was filed in the State Bar Court against Damian S. Trevor , #211256, 29; Allan Charles Hendrickson, #216043, 39; and Shane Chang Han, #219961, 32. All three men practice in Beverly Hills. Nisperos said the proceeding will be expedited because of the threat of substantial harm to the public.

The alleged Section 17200 violations surfaced several months ago and the bar's investigation of the attorneys began in December. Nisperos said lead investigator John Noonen and bar attorneys Jayne Kim and Kimberly Anderson led a task force of some 40 people who devoted more than 8,000 hours to the investigation.

Auto coalition responds

The move was greeted with enthusiasm by leaders of the Automotive Repair Coalition (ARC), a group that has taken the lead in fighting what they have consider to be frivolous lawsuits.

"The Trevor lawyers admitted at the recent January hearing by the Legislature's judiciary committees that they did no investigation of the shops they sued," noted Marty Keller, ARC Executive Director. "They just took listings off the state regulatory agency's web page and slapped them into their complaints. They were taking advantage of loopholes in the state's Unfair Competition Law to try to make some money off what they saw as defenseless small businesses."

Keller additionally noted that, although the State Bar's action is welcome, preventing the Trevor attorneys from further legal work still leaves the state's small businesses vulnerable to lawsuits like the ones filed against the auto repair dealerships. "We fear that the State Bar's action will just alert other attorneys to what they need to avoid when they file these kinds of frivolous lawsuits."

The Coalition's position is that the States Unfair Competition Law needs to be reformed to prevent these kinds of lawsuits from being filed in the first place.