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Dave Kennett
Dave Kennett, Lawyer (JD)
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 27689
Experience:  25 years experience in general law, including real estate, criminal, traffic, and domestic relations
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Under FL Civil Law, can a third party be held responsible as

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Under FL Civil Law, can a third party be held responsible as an accessory to another party who's alleged to have committed civil theft, if that third party contributed erroneous information that led to that first party's theft, even if the third party did not directly benefit from the theft?
Could you please explain who did what to who?
I need to know the circumstances of what happened.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

A contracted party breached a working agreement after materials to complete that agreement were provided by the contractor, by not doing the work he was contracted for. He then kept the materials, and refused to return them, which were worth a considerable (six figures) amount of money. He was advised by a third party who was hired to review the original contract, that he didn't need to honor the contract; and further, the third party acted as the fiduciary to give the bad news to the first party, and creating false allegations which he knew not to be true about the first party's intentions to justify his advice. The ultimate aim of the second and third party was to drive the first party out of business by impeding their ability to complete a contract for which the second party was hired to provide services as part of. There is no doubt civil theft, conversion, and unjust enrichment are viable claims; my question is whether the fiduciary could also be attached to the complaint; including a conspiracy or something along those lines

DearCustomer- If the third party was part of the conspiracy to deprive the owner of the property then the third party should be named as a co-defendant in any suit for replevin or damages. If the third party is not a licensed attorney and was giving legal advice as to the contract the third party should also be reported to the Bar Association for "unauthorized practice of law". So my opinion is that if the third party conspired in the overall scheme then the third party should be named in any suit. I have also included the website for the Bar Association below if you want to contact them to file a complaint.
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Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I presume from your answer that if the third party was an attorney, then your advice would still be applicable, save for the latter point; and I guess you are answering my first question with a "yes," in that the thrid party can be included in a Civil Theft even though they did not directly benefit, correct?

The SOL on the tort aspect has passed for adding the third party (conversion, unjust enrichment, etc., which I don't think would apply anyway). An action has been filed on the second party within the four years. So the only thing left to include the third party is Civil Theft (5 years) and whatever else of 5 years SOL. Is not conspiracy a 4 year SOL?

If this was simply an attorney offering legal advice then my answer would change. You cannot sue an attorney for the advice he or she provides a client. You would have to show that the attorney was actually in a position to benefit from the theft in some way other than for the fees for representation. This is why I needed as much information as possible to answer the question. If an attorney gives a client bad advice and the client gets sued because of that advice then the client is the one who has to sue the attorney, not the person suing the client. My first answer was based on a theory of two people conspiring to deprive you of the property and not on whether the defendant was receiving bad advice from his or her attorney.
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Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Would your answer on the attorney remain the same if the attorney took an active part in carrying out the advice?

I'm not sure what you mean by "carrying out the advice"? If the attorney participated in the actual fraud or theft and was benefiting over and above whatever fees were being charged then you might have a claim but, in general, an attorney who simply gives advice to a client not to pay a bill or not to return property cannot be sued for the advice. It is not illegal for an attorney to give an opinion as to whether property should or should not be returned unless the attorney is benefiting directly from that action. You would need proof that this was beyond advice and that the attorney was part of the overall scheme.
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Customer: replied 4 years ago.

If the second party is out of state to the first party, and the second party hires their local (out of state) attorney for advice, then that attorney hires a local attorney to the first party (Florida) who then takes an active roll in testifying at a court hearing with erroneous information he knew to be false, and as a result of that advice, his clients (the second party and out of state attorney) benefits from keeping the materials, I don't see how the attorney is not held to other accountability by the damaged party directly, regardless what his end was; and that would come out in discovery. Even if his end was constrained solely to a fee arrangement, I would think he stepped outside the boundaries of merely being a bad lawyer answerable only to his clients, when he gave false testimony. Am I wrong?

If he testified and gave false testimony then that goes beyond giving advice to a client. My suggestion in all of this is to go ahead and name the attorney as a party. I can't guarantee anything as to outcomes of court cases from this website but if you name the attorney the issue will at least be before the court and you may have a chance to keep the attorney in the case. There's nothing illegal in naming him and stating your position but I have no way of telling you how the court will rule.
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Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Dave, FYI, the attorney's appearance and testimony was in a Federal Court, where he was not a party in interest, and in fact interrupted a hearing with impromptu outbursts from the back of the court, in addition to a written letter that levied the false allegations he knew not to be true. So I am aware of your final conclusion on just naming him; the original question pertains to whether or not he is attached to a statute whereby the SOL does not apply, since it is past 4 years. Unless you cite something else, the only one that applies is Civil Theft; and tactically, the issue of his benefitting is tied to a conspiracy component, that "might" be mitigated (to plead) by a 4 year SOL. Am I correct? (I'll take care of your rating on each of these steps; so thanks on that.)

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Did you have a final reply to my last question; since it is hinged the original question that was never answered?

You definitely have to attach or add him to the complaint and you must plead civil theft or anything where the statute of limitations has not run. It's not that you can't use a cause of action where the SOL has run but if the defendant is an attorney he will know the rules well enough to plead an affirmative defense of the SOL.
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