Criminal Charges Catch Up To Bar-Booted Ex-Lawyer; Faces Grand Theft Charges For Allegedly Stiffing Client Out Of Portion Of Lawsuit Settlement Proceeds
- A Gainesville attorney whose law license was revoked was arrested Thursday [March 9] after authorities say she mishandled a client's money during a 2015 lawsuit.
Elizabeth Karen Touchton, 45, was charged with grand theft by the State Attorney's Office. The Gainesville Police Department in November had filed a sworn complaint against Touchton in the case.
The charge stems from her representation of Mavis Jean Gold-Fishler in a probate lawsuit on February 7, 2015. Touchton's contract gave her the rights to $2,000 in up-front fees, plus 33.3 percent of any winnings from the suit.
The suit was settled in July 2015 for $20,000, which was deposited into a trust account Touchton controlled on August 8, 2015. According to the complaint, Touchton transferred $13,193 of the settlement into her business checking account over the next two months. She also reportedly put $807 into her mortgage account in September 2015.
Touchton then sent the Fishler family a check for $6,000, which was marked "6000 of 10k settlement funds." In total, Touchton only paid the family $8,000 of the money she owed them, the report states.
The Fishlers confronted her about why they had not received the full $13,334.
According to records from the Florida Supreme Court, Touchton voluntarily gave up her license to practice law in September 2016, in part because of a Florida Bar investigation of her handling of the Fishler case. The court's ruling would allow Touchton to seek readmission to the Florida Bar in 2021, although she has said previously that she does not plan to do so.
"I have no intention of ever going back into law. I hated it. It's an awful profession and the Florida Bar is an awful organization," Touchton told The Sun in January.
For similar "attorney ripoff reimbursement funds" that attempt to clean up the financial mess created by the dishonest conduct of lawyers licensed in other states and Canada, see:
- Directory Of Lawyers' Funds For Client Protection (February 2017) (includes a listing for Canadian client protection funds, courtesy of the American Bar Association);
- Check the USA Client Protection Funds Map;
- Check the Canada Client Protection Funds Map.