Lawyer in Miami Archdiocese sex abuse cases loses license

A lawyer who drew a ton of publicity as he collected millions of dollars in clergy sexual-abuse settlements from the Archdiocese of Miami has been suspended from practicing law for 1.5 years by the Florida Supreme Court.

Attorney Jeffrey M. Herman, who brought upwards of 50 negligence lawsuits against the archdiocese, must stop his involvement in the remaining cases and all other litigation after the state Supreme Court found him guilty of professional misconduct.

"Herman shall accept no new business until he is reinstated to the practice of law in Florida," the high court wrote in a 20-page opinion.

Herman violated the Florida Bar's conflict of interest rules when he started up an aviation company in the late 1990s that directly competed with a client in the same business – without disclosing it.

The client, Aero Controls of Seattle, sued Herman and his law firm. After a 2005 out-of-court settlement, Aero filed an ethics complaint against him with the Florida Bar.

In a statement issued Friday, Herman acknowledged he invested in an aircraft leasing company, Nation Aviation, and did not disclose it to a legal client who was also in the aircraft parts business.

"There was no allegation that my work as an attorney for the client was compromised because of my interest in the other company," said Herman, 48, whose former law firm is in Aventura.

"I opposed the imposition of sanctions against me in the disciplinary proceeding, but now that the court has acted I will not be practicing law during the period of suspension," said Herman, who had disputed his guilt and later argued that he deserved a public reprimand by the state Supreme Court, at most.

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