That’s how much ink it took a state appellate court to uphold a trial ruling in a malpractice case against Coral Springs attorney Adam J. Katz.
But the court’s words, though sparse, were telling. They cited legal precedent that suggests the appellate panel had no reason to question Palm Beach Circuit Judge Cymonie S. Rowe’s ruling against Katz.
“Affirmed,” the Fourth District Court of Appeal ruled in an unsigned decision by Judges Martha C. Warner, Carole Y. Taylor and Spencer D. Levine on Wednesday. It then cited a 2009 case from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, which found it unnecessary to have expert testimony in a legal malpractice case if “the lawyer’s lack of care and skill is so obvious that the trier of fact can resolve the issue as a matter of common knowledge.”
Katz and his West Palm Beach lawyer, Richard Lubliner, did not respond to requests for comment by deadline. His website depicts a litigator passionate about his client’s interests.
“If you need an attorney that truly cares about your legal needs, then my firm and its compassionate staff is your answer,” Katz wrote on his firm’s landing page. “At our firm, every client is treated as if they are the only client. Your concern is our concern.”
But the party opposing his former client claims Katz forged a settlement agreement that would have allowed his client to collect from a debtor. Katz dismissed the case without his client’s knowledge once the opposing side raised the forgery claim, according to court documents.
Katz once represented Aniel Jerome in a debt collection case involving bounced checks after a derailed business deal. His client sought to collect from H&D No. 1 Investment Group and co-defendant Anderson Louis June.
“It’s a relatively simple type of case for a lawyer to do,” said Jerome’s current attorney, George Gaskell. “Liability is more or less automatic in these cases.”
Court documents show Jerome reached an agreement with the other parties in the underlying case. It appeared the two sides agreed the defendants would pay him back under a consent judgment rather than continuing with the collection action.
But the defendants then claimed Katz had forged the settlement. They asked the court to set aside the consent judgement and find Katz liable for fraud.
“Then for some unexplained reason, Mr. Katz … dismissed a case that he had already won,” Gaskell said. “Mr. Jerome came to me and did not understand what had happened. I could not figure out what had happened. I had never seen a case as simple as a bounced-check case go as weirdly and badly as this one had. I could not explain why his attorney would dismiss the case. I only had the allegations of Mr. Jerome’s lawyer.”
The trial court sided with the client and held Katz liable for the money his client sought in the underlying case. Rowe ordered Katz to pay Jerome $65,750.
The attorney appealed the ruling only to receive a curt affirmance from the Fourth DCA.