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How to sue friends and influence people

By Scott Barancik
Published January 20, 2007


Welcome to Litigation Nation, an occasional column about lawyers, lawsuits, courts and businesses that land there.

Today, we begin sharing some of the little gems we unearth via court files, credible sources and old-fashioned reporting.

Crime doesn't pay. Neither do some criminals.

Ask William Randolph Klein. Less than four months after Jorge Castro Olmos hired the Sarasota lawyer to fight charges of aiding an international sweepstakes scheme, the two agreed to split company. Olmos found another attorney, but not his checkbook. He allegedly owes Klein nearly $90,000.

The story didn't end well for Olmos, who is in prison. It ended worse for Klein. Shortly after hiring a collection agency in November, the lawyer passed away.

Some deaths are odder than others. Janet Capron blames her sister's on a chain of events that began with a botched cable-Internet installation.

A cable installer accidentally broke through the chimney flue in Jill Capron's unit at the Beacon on 3rd Street Condominiums. Later, Janet claims, an unrelated Freon leak in the St. Petersburg building's mechanical room caused a hot water boiler to emit high levels of carbon monoxide. The gas passed through the broken flue into Jill's home, where she died.

Janet sued the condo association for negligence. The association sued its liability insurer for coverage. The Freon's still at large.

Also missing is a truckload of cigars that disappeared en route to Tampa from Jacksonville several years ago. Ever since, Spanish cigar maker Altadis has tried to make the trucking company take responsibility for the 2,500 missing cartons. The U.S. Supreme Court recently agreed to hear the case.

James Felman deserves a good stogie. Last month, the Tampa defense lawyer helped an Ohio client shave six years off a 20-year prison sentence and cut a $92-million restitution tab down to a mere $20-million. J. Richard Jamieson had been convicted of defrauding life insurers and more than 2,000 investors in an AIDS-related insurance scam.

But like Klein, Felman may have trouble getting paid. Jamieson's victims filed suit years ago to get their money back.

Restaurants are among the business world's riskiest investments. Does it stand to reason, then, that restaurateurs tend to invest rashly?

James Lanza, co-owner of bay area eateries such as Water and Ciccio & Tony's, recently sued a New York chemical coatings firm for defaulting on a $500,000 loan.

Sarasota resident and former American Restaurant Association chair Burton Sack has filed suit against a different company over a defaulted $370,000 loan.

Scott Barancik can be reached at or 727 893-8751.



[Last modified January 20, 2007, 06:31:04]

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