A Melbourne lawyer engaged in billing shenanigans with clients, failed to notify those clients of $15,000 in settlement funds, and paid himself with that money. He then sued those clients alleging breach of contract “damages of $100 million.”
What he did with the $15,000 earned George Ollinger III an emergency suspension in January 2021. What Ollinger did next got him disbarred last month after being a member of the bar of Florida since 1977.
What can sometimes feel like a season one episode of “Better Call Saul” begins at Sunrise Mobile Home Park in Palm Bay four years ago.
Death and attorney fees
The following is from the referee’s report on Ollinger’s initial disciplinary case.
Claudia and Nandallal Rameshwar lived in the mobile park, but did not get along with the management. After a “dispute” with the manager, Claudia Rameshwar claimed she was injured and hired Ollinger for a personal injury lawsuit on January 20, 2018. Ollinger’s fees would depend on the outcome of the lawsuit.
An aggravated assault charge on Feb. 7, 2018, gave Claudia Rameshwar another reason to need an attorney, so she hired Ollinger for a lump sum of $3,500. But Claudia Rameshwar died during heart surgery on February 18, 2018, a heart operation her husband and adult daughters blamed on her battles with Sunrise Mobile Home Park management.
They hired Ollinger for a wrongful death lawsuit against the manager and Sunrise Mobile Home Park, with attorney’s fees contingent on the outcome of the lawsuit. They also hired him for probate work on Rameshwar’s estate, preventing Nandallal Rameshwar’s eviction from Sunrise and a lawsuit against Minnesota Life Insurance for failing to pay the claim after Claudia Rameshwar’s death.
Ollinger thought he could get Sunrise with a class action lawsuit for predatory behavior via unfair evictions. He sent 399 form letters to Sunrise owners and billed the Rameshwars for the time his paralegal spent interviewing some of those owners.
A Florida Bar audit reportedly shows that on June 18, 2018, Ollinger deposited a $10,000 check from Geico for Claudia Rameshwar’s estate into his trust account. The memo on the check read “for underinsured motorist coverage.” He did the same with a $5,000 check from Geico. The memo said “for injury protection and death benefits.”
Ollinger’s paralegal emailed the Rameshwars about the $10,000 four days before Ollinger deposited the check. But, there was no similar notification regarding the $5,000. Additionally, Ollinger never received a signed closing statement from the Rameshwars before transferring $14,820 of the money from his trust account to his operating account.
As of January 28, 2019, all of Geico’s money had disappeared from the operating account and all withdrawals from that account were destined for Ollinger’s law firm or Ollinger.
Ollinger, the only signatory to this operating account, later claimed that the Geico money remained in the account until July 8, 2019, even in the face of bank statements showing the operating account overdrawn on January 28. 2019. What an audit found was that he transferred $15,000 into the trust account from his operating account.
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Paperwork and a ‘paralegal/lover’
Even after the Rameshwars dropped Ollinger as a lawyer, he continued to file pleadings on behalf of Claudia Rameshwar’s estate and attempted to have who the arbitrator called his “paralegal/lover” installed as his personal representative. of the estate.
In November 2018, Ollinger filed a lawsuit against Nandallal Rameshwar and his late wife’s adult daughter for breach of contract, alleging violation of various fee agreements. He added Claudia Rameshwar’s estate as a defendant in November 2019. It’s the $100 million lawsuit.
Meanwhile, as the lawsuit against Minnesota Life Insurance continued in federal court, Ollinger did not file a motion for leave to leave, but attempted to replace his legal assistant as the plaintiff instead of the estate of Claudia Rameshwar.
The federal trial court ultimately issued an order removing Ollinger as the estate’s attorney.
Suspension and deregistration
The Florida Bar asked the state Supreme Court for an emergency stay of Ollinger in January 2021 because he “appears to cause great public harm by engaging in patterns of misconduct, including, but without limitation, the following: embezzlement of client funds, mixing of attorneys and client funds, and engaging in conflicts of interest.”
The court granted the Bar’s request. But, according to a Law Society petition for contempt, Ollinger continued to “engage in email communications ‘as opposing counsel'” in a Broward County divorce case in April 2021.
The arbitrator’s report on the previous case recommended Ollinger’s disbarment. The contempt of court case only added weight. Combined, the two crushed Ollinger’s legal career.