Former San Francisco Human Rights Commission Senior Contract Compliance Officer and “City corruption whistleblower” Kevin Williams announces SF Attorney’s Eric M. Safire and John Houston Scott were fraudulently awarded $245,000 of his $400,000 settlement proceeds by retired judge Daniel M. Hanlon of the Judicial Arbitration Management Service (JAMS) at an arbitration hearing held on March 11, 2008.
San Francisco, CA -- (ReleaseWire) -- 07/23/2008 -- Kevin Williams today announced that on July 29, 2008, in Dept. 301, 9:30 a.m. he will ask San Francisco Superior Court Judge Peter J. Bush to grant his motion for a new trial because Safire and Scott procured the quarter of a million dollar arbitration award through fraud and other undue means. Williams was promised 60% of any total recovery to settle his case and dismiss all related causes of action against the City and County of San Francisco in 2004. After he did so, Safire would only pay him $120,000 or 30%.
• The evidence shows that on May 24, 2005 Attorney Eric M. Safire was warned by the State of California Bar for violations of his fiduciary duty to Williams under the Business and Professions Code because Safire sought to influence Williams to settle his case by contacting Williams close friends and associates due to his reluctance to settle. (See enclosed State Bar warning letter) The Bar warned Safire for having Public Defender Jeff Adachi among others telephone Williams at his home to urge him to accept the settlement offer. Safire further claimed to have paid $5,000 to Mr. Adachi as an advance to be deducted from Williams’s settlement proceeds as an attorney referral fee. This later proved to be false. Safire disclosed confidential details of Williams’s settlement, including the dollar amount without either his knowledge or consent.
• For three years Safire and Scott have maintained before the trial court in sworn declarations under penalty of perjury that the contingency fee agreement they wrote for Williams was valid. Williams has been denied his constitutional right to a trial by jury for several years because Scott and Safire lied to the court that the contract was at all times valid. The trial court relied on a binding arbitration provision in the fee agreement that was fraudulently represented to the court as being legal.
• These highly experienced trial attorneys did so to avoid trial until the day of the arbitration proceedings on March 11, 2008. For the first time they admitted that the fee agreement was illegal. Subsequently, in April 1 and April 10, 2008 post-arbitration briefs Safire and Scot told the arbitrator that they knew all along that the attorney-client fee agreement was void.
• In the face of an illegal contract, Safire and Scott’s hidden motive was to claim the doctrine of “Quantum Meruit,” (Latin) meaning the “value of services” as an undue means to collect an unconscionable attorney fee award. Plainly stated, Safire and Scott told the trial court the fee agreement was legal and the arbitrator that the fee agreement was illegal. Rules of discovery require all parties to disclose their respective positions to be argued before the arbitration hearing.
• Williams is requesting a new trial because it is clear that the evidence does not support the decision, particularly since Safire and Scott signed a Joint Arbitration Stipulation admitting that Williams is owed over $200,000 in exchange for his approval to settle his case in 2004.
• Under the Business Code Section 6147 dealing with contingency fee agreements and the election of voiding unlawful attorney-client fee agreements, the legislature never intended to reward a California attorney for their failure to comply with the law. This decision of the arbitrator encourages attorneys to craft defective contingency fee agreements so that they can be voided and then in turn collect more than specified in the contingency fee agreement. This would further establish a dangerous precedent for consumers. In this case, the arbitration award grants an unheard of $62% of the $400,000 total settlement amount to Safire and Scott.
• Not only is the arbitration award illegal, it is incorrectly calculated. It requires an additional $7,300 payment of interest on $245,000 at 1% per annum over three years. Safire was paid a total $125,000 of this sum in 2004. If the arbitration award is allowed to stand, Williams will be required to pay interest on money already paid from his settlement proceeds to Safire and Scott three years ago.
• Under California Rules of Court (CRC) arbitration is not applicable for amounts in dispute exceeding $50,000. Amounts exceeding this threshold proceed to trial and are decided by a jury.
Kevin Williams will initiate a campaign of organized peaceful pickets outside the law offices of Attorney Eric Safire located at 2431 Fillmore St San Francisco, CA 94115 at beginning on August 11 through October 11, 2008 in protest of the fraudulent tactics used to steal his rightful share of settlement money still owed to him and to alert the general public.
All supporting documentation will be made available upon request.