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Florida Bar sets its sights on 1-800-Ask-Gary, 411-Pain and other lawyer-referral services

Bar wants restrictions placed on one-stop-shop lawyer- and medical-referral services

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This isn’t the first time Kompothecras has faced the white-hot flame of opposition, nor is it the only front on which his empire is being assaulted. Last July, State Farm filed a lawsuit against Kompothecras, alleging that he operates a “massive fraud scheme” through Ask Gary and Physicians Group. The insurance giant also claims Kompothecras illegally shares fees and engages in quid-pro-quo arrangements with attorneys, and deceptively implies through advertisements that Ask Gary and Physicians Group are separate entities.

Asked for comment about the proposed amendments, Gregory A. Zitani, who represents Kompothecras, responded via email:

“There will be a public comment period and then the proposed rules will have to be approved by the Supreme Court. We are confident that the final product of this process will be a Constitutional set of revised rules.”

Zitani also calls State Farm’s lawsuit “frivolous and malicious,” and accused State Farm of suing because it owes Physicians Group $9 million in unpaid medical claims. Many people who call Ask Gary are not referred to Physicians Group, he continues, and “all attorneys who are part of the Ask Gary network are not advised or required to refer any of their clients to the Physicians Group or any specific medical providers.”

The Bar requires Ask Gary and other referral services to report the names of all attorneys who subscribe to them on a quarterly basis. In the most recent report, submitted Dec. 30, only one Orlando-area law firm, the Pineyro Law Firm, is listed as a subscriber. As of press time the firm had not responded to requests for comment. (Merely subscribing to Ask Gary or any other referral service, of course, does not mean or imply that a firm or an attorney is violating Bar rules.)

The Florida Bar board of governors was supposed to vote on the amendments in December. That vote was delayed because the Bar’s professional ethics committee decided to review and possibly redraft the amendments. The committee is scheduled to meet again on Thursday, Jan. 30. If the committee approves the proposed amendments that day, the board could review and approve the rules the following day.

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