Florida high court: One lawyer disbarred; another suspended

BARTOW | The Florida Supreme Court has disbarred former Lakeland lawyer William Rinaldo for abandoning cases and has suspended Frostproof lawyer Marcia Forsett for contempt after she failed to complete a previously ordered ethics course, according to a report released by The Florida Bar on Wednesday.

Rinaldo, who had practiced law since 2000, didn’t challenge the allegations that he accepted legal fees to represent clients in bankruptcy cases but didn’t file some cases and abandoned others, according to court documents.

He was the principal partner in the Rinaldo Law Firm at 1102 S. Florida Ave. in ­Lakeland before closing his firm earlier this year.

In June, he was permanently suspended from practicing law in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Middle District of Florida, court records show.

Court records show Rinaldo also was disciplined for taking on a civil case and failing to appear in court for a motion hearing, leaving the clients to represent themselves and ultimately to seek other representation.

Rinaldo received his law degree from Nova Southeastern University in 1999 and was admitted to The Florida Bar a year later, according to Florida Bar records.

Forsett, a sole practitioner listing an apartment complex in Frostproof as her law firm’s address, has been suspended indefinitely because she failed to complete ethics training.

She had been publicly reprimanded in August 2013 for the manner in which she handled a will, and that reprimand included completion of an ethics course. According to Supreme Court records, she was scheduled to attend the course three times but failed to report to the class.

Court records show in October 2008, Forsett assisted a client who was caring for an elderly man who had lost his ability to speak.

At the client’s request, Forsett drafted a will making the client the sole beneficiary of the elderly man’s will, eliminating any of his family, and Forsett accompanied the client to have the will signed.

She failed to review the revised will with him at that time, court records show.

In probate court, the revised will was ruled invalid and an earlier will was placed into probate, according to court files.

During the initial disciplinary action by the state Supreme Court, Forsett didn’t contest the allegations against her and agreed to the public reprimand and ethics training, court records show.

Forsett received her law degree from Texas Southern University in 2002 and was admitted to The Florida Bar in 2007, according to Florida Bar records.

Neither Rinaldo nor Forsett could be reached for comment Wednesday.


Florida High Court: One Lawyer Disbarred; Another Suspended
Suzie Schottelkotte
October 30, 2014