Spokespersons for national law firm Jones Day unsurprisingly term the volunteer work that firm attorneys do on a so-called “pro bono” basis as routinely first-rate and even exceptional.
Two individuals who recently filed a lawsuit against the firm in a Southern California state court beg to differ. Their complaint alleges that Jones Day representation in their pro bono matter left them destitute and homeless.
Until recently, both those individuals owned mobile homes in Orange County. They turned to Jones Day for help after material disagreements with their landlord emerged. Their lawsuit contends that the landlord demanded unlawfully high rent payments and eventually forced them from their homes for nonpayment.
The litigation specifically spotlights a number of alleged breaches committed by attorneys who the plaintiffs say were woefully lacking in experience and not up to the task of representing them adequately. The legal filing cites breach of fiduciary duties and of the firm’s engagement letter, malpractice, false advertising, fraud and unfair business practices.
The core of the plaintiffs’ complaint centers on what the former homeowners term the “burdensome settlement” that Jones Day inked with the landlord. The plaintiffs state that the pact unfairly required them to pay large sums for back rent and the defendant’s legal expenses. Moreover, they contend, it contained a broad claims-release provision that the landlord has cited to escape liability.
The plaintiffs seek both compensatory and punitive damages against Jones Day for its alleged malpractice. They are also petitioning the court for special damages applicable to various expenses, including those necessary to purchase new dwellings.