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The Florida Supreme Court has disbarred Norman Ganz, a lawyer accused of filing a string of racial discrimination lawsuits with his paralegal Brian Neiman and other lawyers that a federal judge labeled as extortion. Ganz, 41, of Fort Lauderdale, was disbarred for allowing Neiman, a convicted felon, to engage in the unlicensed practice of law, charge an excessive fee and represent clients with adverse interests. Disbarment is the most severe form of discipline meted out by the supreme court following an investigation or complaint to the Florida Bar. The Bar filed suit against Ganz, whose case was a consolidation of four Bar complaints dating as far back as 1991, when he was first admitted to the Bar. Ganz was not available for comment. A solo practitioner, he voluntarily stopped practicing law in September 1998 and is being treated for an undisclosed ailment. Ganz and Neiman, along with Fort Lauderdale lawyer Saul Smolar and Ruden, McClosky, Smith, Schuster & Russell partner Barry Mandelkorn, all have faced sanctions by a federal judge, Bar investigations and civil lawsuits in connection with the controversial discrimination lawsuits. They were accused of filing a string of lawsuits against employers such as Ocean Spray, BellSouth, Broward County, Fla., and the Broward County School Board, then threatening to bring in the NAACP as a plaintiff. In return, the lawyers gave NAACP chapters some of the settlement money. The Bar also alleged that Neiman was actually running Ganz’s law firm from his home and that Ganz shared his fees with Neiman, a violation of Bar rules. The Florida Supreme Court recently censured Neiman for practicing law without a license. A judge has recommended that Smolar receive a three-year suspension, but the supreme court has not yet acted on that recommendation. The cases that involved Ruden McClosky brought sanctions from a federal judge, an ongoing Bar investigation of Mandelkorn and a civil lawsuit filed by Ruden McClosky clients that the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports is being settled for $8 million. The cases also led to the ouster of Roosevelt Walters, former head of the Fort Lauderdale NAACP. Lawyers at Ruden McClosky have said they regret ever getting involved with Ganz and Neiman and will be wary about hooking up with outside employment discrimination lawyers in the future.

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