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Tampa attorney wants to get paid for a lawsuit he didn’t argue

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

A Tampa attorney is seeking payment from another law firm over a decade-old case.

After a 2005 purse snatching led to the permanent incapacitation of an elderly shopper, the victim’s niece, Carolyn Brooks, sought the advice of Joel Fein on a potential civil suit.

Fein reportedly referred her to a firm that specialized in tort and personal-injury representation. Fein agreed to accept a 25 percent cut of whatever award was issued for referring the case.

Brooks ultimately won a $2.75 million settlement against the shopping center on Palm River Road and 78 Street in Tampa on behalf of the victim, Sarah Edwards. Of that, Fein received a $275,000 commission.

But now Fein is suing the other firm, Martinez-Odom Law Group, for a separate $5 million case against the car insurance company that insured the purse-snatcher. Fein was not paid a commission on that separate suit.

He alleges Martinez-Odom intentionally concealed the suit to avoid having to pay him the agreed-upon commission and argues the non-payment is a breech of contract.

Fein has retained one of Tampa’s most acclaimed attorneys, Barry Cohen.

Fein and his attorney are also alleging Martinez-Odom failed to secure a big enough settlement against the insurer on Edwards’ behalf. Attorneys settled on $5 million on a $69 million court judgment.

It’s unclear whether Fein could be awarded more money based on the larger judgment amount.

The 2005 incident occurred when Edwards was walking through the parking lot. A large GMC Sierra 1500 pick-up truck drove by her and grabbed the purse. The driver, David Dwayne Scott, then accelerated. The force pushed Edwards into the truck and then to the ground.

Edwards suffered a severe brain injury and, according to the lawsuit, was left in a semi-vegetative state.

Scott was subsequently sentenced to prison in 2006 for the crime. He’s scheduled to be released in 2023.

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email janelle@floridapolitics.com.

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