I hired a lawyer from the Unemployment Center Help Center after appealing a denial of unemployment benefits to the Appeals Examiner and it being affirmed.
My lawyer stated in her contract between her and I that she would charge a flat fee of $450 that covered all aspects of my case, including costs and expenses (contract is available upon request).
Once we were given a date to appeal the decision of the Appeals Examiner to the Virginia Employment’s Commission, she wrote a briefing on my behalf as to why the Commission should overturn the Appeals Examiner's decision and submitted it to the Commission.
It was not until a couple days before the actual hearing that my lawyer informed me she was not planning to show up to the actual hearing. When I requested that she show up with me to the hearing, she told me that I would need to buy her a plane ticket and hotel expenses to bring her up to Richmond, VA from Tampa, FL in order to physically be present. I told her I did not have the funds to do that and asked her if I should go by myself, in which she told me that it wouldn't make a difference whether I showed up or not since everything was in her written briefing she submitted.
After I received notice that I lost the appeal to the Commission (they affirmed my denial of unemployment benefits), I told my lawyer that I planned to appeal the decision to the VA Circuit Courts by submitting a Petition for Judicial Review. She informed me that she would not be able to help me out with my case going forward because she does not deal with Circuit Courts and to contact my local bar association for assistance.
I ended up researching and putting together (on my own) a Petition for Review, in which I submitted on Friday, February 11, 2017, the last day to submit it since I had been emailing, calling, and texting my lawyer to ask about some very basic questions regarding what I could and could not include in a Petition and never once received any response on whether she could answer my question or not, to refer to someone else….nothing.
I have been researching facts on unemployment cases and looking at similar unemployment cases to mine for the last month and have ended up making a significant discovery involving text message correspondence between my boss (at my job that I was allegedly terminated for misconduct) and I that actually proves my entire argument for unemployment benefits.
My questions are:
a) Is there any way to get a refund from my lawyer (and possibly damages from costing me my unemployment benefits) since she totally misled me and, from what her contract says, did not fulfill the majority of what she said she would do in regards to my unemployment case (her scope of work contract is available upon request)?
b) Is there any possible way to submit this new evidence in to consideration for my unemployment appeal?
Thank you very much for any assistance you can afford me.
1 Answer from Attorneys
(a) Your first mistake was hiring an attorney who apparently is licensed in Florida
rather than Virginia to assist you with the denial of your claim for Virginia unemployment
benefits. You could, of course, still write a letter to this attorney demanding at
least a partial refund of the fee which you paid her (if you haven't already doe so), but if that proves unavailing you could also file a complaint with the Florida Bar.
(b) If the deadline for filing your petition for a review of your benefits denial with the local circuit court was Feb. 11, 2017, then it's probably too late now to file anything further to amend/supplement your petition but you could always call the clerk's office of the court to confirm whether this in fact is the case as well as the Virginia Unemployment Benefits Commission in Richmond.
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