Action 9 investigates well-known law firm

By: Gerry Mendiburt

Updated:

ORLANDO,Fla. - A Rockledge woman claims that a well-known law firm that recently changed its name charged her for legal services it didn't deliver.

Donna Gaber is one of the dozens of clients who have made similar complaints after paying fees for bankruptcy cases.

Action 9's Todd Ulrich discovered that the attorney who took over the firm's clients now faces a new Florida Bar investigation.

Gaber found her finances upside-down, and she believed bankruptcy was the only option to save her home.

So she responded to an ad for KEL attorneys. She said she was told, “not to worry about my house or my car. They would take care of any credit cards I had.”

According to Gaber, a paralegal said the bankruptcy would take just six weeks. After paying the $1,800 fee, she claims she could never talk to a lawyer or get case updates.

“I'm pissed, quite frankly. I never thought a company that had a good reputation would pull a stunt like that,” said Gaber.

Garber is just one of many clients that Action 9 found who felt ignored after they paid their fees.

Michael West paid KEL $1,200 for a bankruptcy.

“They just said we're going to take your money, we can't help you and case closed,” West said.

This year KEL Attorneys changed names, and partner Mathew Englett kept most of its clients under Englett and Associates, then started the firm Lawyer ASAP.

At the Better Business Bureau both of Englett's law firms have 112 complaints and are rated F.

“Absolutely nothing in terms of legal satisfaction or a Chapter 7,” said Gaber.

Todd Ulrich contacted the Florida Bar. The agency said Englett faces a new investigation.

Barry University professor Michael Morley said after paying fees clients should have access to lawyers. “There still has to be some minimum contact between a lawyer and their client,” said Morley. 

“Florida requires that?” asked Ulrich. 

“Absolutely,” replied Morley.

Englett said his firm frequently contacted Gaber and was still working her case.

Englett said West canceled services, even though his bankruptcy could have been done in 90 days.

Englett and his two KEL partners were reprimanded by the Florida Bar for violations involving client communications and non-attorneys sharing legal fees.

Matthew Englett Response: “We did nothing wrong in these cases.  You just have some very difficult clients here.  If you would really like to learn about the bankruptcy process, I will be happy to explain. You’re only getting one side of this and not the full picture.  Please see details below regarding each client/former client you interviewed. We are still working on Donna Gaber’s case and the attorney representing her was getting ready to schedule her next week to come into our office to sign her petition and file it. Everyone in our bankruptcy department is familiar with this client.  There has been more than enough communication in her case.  It would take me too long to list all the dates of emails and phone calls there are so many. West took almost a year to pay us so we could begin work.  Once paid, we began work, we finished collecting all required documents in two months with consistent communication throughout. Thirty days later, his petition had been drafted and was with his attorney when he canceled complaining the process took too long. We would have filed within a few days of this.  Ninety days to complete this process is not too long.  We like to get everyone done within 120 days. The attorney on this case denied the refund request, because we completed all the work.  The only thing we did not do is attend the 341 meeting.  We did refund the cost deposit he gave us.”   

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