May 21, 2016
G. Blane Clark, Jr., Managing Partner
Kean Miller, LLP
Baton Rouge, LA
Re: Carey Messina
Dear Mr. Clark,
In November of 2013, I was referred to one of your attorneys, Carey J. Messina to represent me in a Louisiana family succession case that was going nowhere after three years of deceit and lies by my uncle, Jimmy, a licensed attorney, in Shreveport, LA. As of late, I’ve become very unhappy with Carey’s management of my case and his protection of my assets.
On March 11, 2010, my grandmother, Ava Chandler Burnett of Shreveport, LA died. She was preceded in death by her husband and my grandfather, Verne Burnett of Shreveport, who died on April 1, 1988 and by her youngest son and my father, Thomas Edward Burnett of Daphne, AL, on November 28, 1998. I believe I became a “naked owner” upon her death or maybe sooner with my father’s death. I’m unfamiliar with Louisiana law (My grandparent’s remaining child and first son, James “Jimmy” Albert Burnett, 73, was made the executor of my grandfather’s succession. He’s a practicing attorney with his firm, Burnett and Walker, in Shreveport.) I am my father’s only son and child. My uncle, Jimmy, was the favorite son over my father who spent most of his adult years struggling with his time spent in Vietnam as a marine. He died at the age of 53 from chronic alcoholism. The two brothers who grew up in the same house and they were only two years apart, however they were total opposites in personality and likability.
In the summer of 2010, I got a phone call, from out of the blue, from my uncle Jimmy. He informed me that he was going to start working on the succession process, which includes stock, cash, a family home… Once a year, I made contact with Jimmy to find out the status of the succession process only to get the runaround or having him state that he needed to send off some paperwork to get the stock re-issued in each of our respective names. It never happened (Carey confided to me that Jimmy is too incompetent to handle the succession.).
I was born in Tuscaloosa, AL where my parents met at The University and I am a lifelong resident of Alabama. The only attorney that I ever knew of from Louisiana, with its unique set of laws, was my uncle. I didn’t know of any other attorney to call for help and I wasn’t sure of what kind of help I even needed. This delayed any legal action I might have taken against him. In the spring of 2013, I called him again about the progress of the succession only to be lied to once more. I already had enough bad history with my uncle in other family and personal matters. When I got married in 2002, I consciously didn’t invite him or his second wife to the wedding while inviting my cousins (his children). Having had enough of his lies, I finally went online looking for a Louisiana-based attorney. I came across (redacted), out of New Orleans, after reading one of his white papers on the succession issue. We began talking, but soon demands for money came up in our discussions. I wasn’t in a financial position due to being on Social Security Disability (since 2009). By the summer, we agreed to end our talks and we parted ways. Several months passed and I called up another attorney in the Baton Rouge area who referred me to Carey.
Following my grandmother’s death (2010), Jimmy began sending me small monthly checks ($600) to sustain me at my request. However, I had no say so in the dollar amount nor did I know what I stood to inherit. He’s always been an intimidating figure to me. Upon hiring Carey (2013), he sent a letter to Jimmy seeking financial information. Little did I know that Jimmy call up Carey and “trash me” in a ninety minute conversation trying to scare Carey off the case rather than simply answer his letter. Carey immediately called me up and from the tone of his voice I could tell he was shook up and very angry with me! Carey stated that he would get the financial information to me in the coming weeks, but that he wasn’t going to be able to do much more. That was code for “I’m dropping you as a client” (I have Bipolar Disorder and I guess my uncle used this illness and my history against me.). I couldn’t afford to keep calling up more attorneys only to have my uncle run them off. My lunch buddy for several years is a 40-year veteran with Merrill Lynch who was born and raised in Shreveport prior to starting his career in New Orleans. After being displaced by Hurricane Katrina (2005), Mike (redacted) and his family moved to Fairhope, AL.
Based on my conversation with a very heated Carey, I asked Mike to call Carey’s office and settle him down by putting in a good word for me. Michael did make the call for me and he was told by a still angry Carey to tell me to stop emailing my essays to him. By sharing my work, I simply wanted my new attorney to better understand me. Carey wasn’t interested (For years, I’ve shared these same works with the faculties at Harvard Business School, Harvard Law School, Yale Law School, Stanford Law School, UC Berkeley Law, Chicago Law School, Columbia Law School, NYU Law, Penn Law, Virginia Law, UCLA Law, USC Law, Alabama Law, Emory Law, UGA Law, Mercer Law, Oxford Law, Cambridge Law… with little protest.)
Its 2016 and I still don’t know the following critical question, what am I owed from the succession? For some months, I had to beg Jimmy for my money or get his wife involved. It’s kept me from making any long-term financial plans or from taking a nice vacation. In the past 6 years, I’ve never seen a single financial statement from the executor of this succession. In November 2014, I searched the Louisiana Treasury’s website for “Unclaimed Property” at the request of Carey and I scored several hits. However, I didn’t learn the actual dollar amount until this winter. Jimmy allowed close to $150,000 dollars in stock dividends and a life insurance policy accumulate in the Louisiana State Treasury, Carey’s response, “No problem?” What about the lost interest and opportunity? We can only hope we haven’t forfeited anything else to the state or to anyone else.
In August 2015, Jimmy had a heart procedure. It was serious enough that Jimmy’s attorney, Ed Ball, got a signed power of attorney from him. Ed sent the power of attorney letter to ComputerShare only to have them reject the form. I wasn’t even notified of his pending medical procedure, but my friends tell me that if he had died or dies during this succession process it will become a huge financial and legal mess for me. I’m putting your firm on notice if this matter isn’t brought to a successful conclusion before he dies; I’m suing Kean Miller, LLP.
This fall, 5 of 11 (a 12th has been discovered) known stocks were transferred into my name and I received a check for $25,000 from my grandfather’s succession following court approval. I also received my first bill for the work done by Kean Miller, LLP for $12,900.00. However, I wasn’t given any history on how that bill reached that dollar amount. Ironically, Carey and his wife came over to Gulf Shores, AL for the weekend. I expressed an interest in meeting him, but the feeling apparently wasn’t mutual. I never heard back from him on Sunday or Monday. Had I been someone like (redacted), the former president and CEO of (redacted and a current board member at the LSU Foundation maybe the outcome would have been different. I quickly paid my bill on the assumption that the balance of cash and stocks was coming, but it hasn’t. It’s stalled. (I did receive a check for $12,000 upon my request, in March 2016). At this pace, I can’t imagine this case being brought to a timely conclusion by the end of 2016 and I remain in the dark to the dollar amount.
In December 2015, Jimmy’s attorney, (redacted), of Shreveport informed me that Jimmy had repeatedly refused to handover the necessary mail for Ed to do his job of getting the stocks renamed and reissued to both of us. Ed said this case should have been settled, last summer, but the meter continues to run. (Carey has long stopped promising me a completion date.) Jimmy has skipped meetings with Ed to sign paperwork. I’ve asked Carey to file a complaint with the Louisiana Supreme Court against my uncle only to have Carey dismiss the idea like it was “crazy” or “stupid”. Let the process work. Why else would the Louisiana Supreme Court establish this grievance process for the public to address the actions of Louisiana attorneys? Given the long history of misconduct by Jimmy towards me and my family, I could make a strong case against him.
At this rate, I’m very concerned that I won’t see the remaining stocks, dividends and the cash due to me. I live on my monthly Social Security Disability Check while I’m currently burning through the cash given to me by my uncle. If I were to receive all my stocks today, I believe I could live on just my government check and my quarterly dividends while saving my cash for a rainy day. I think everyone of you reading this email would want the same for yourself. It’s commonsense. Why Carey, a tax-attorney, doesn’t seem to care about his client’s financial well-being maybe best explained by him having only nine toes. I guess he didn’t care about it, either. I haven’t heard from him in two months when I was chasing down that last check. Tax day came and went on April 15, do I owe the federal government or the state of Alabama any money? Hell, if I know.
I don’t mind paying top dollar, but I want top service in exchange and there lies the rub. I would like my legal fees with Kean Miller, LLP to be renegotiated downward. Nobody wants to be embarrassed like this, but no one wants to be taken for granted, either.
I’m a fan of quotes and motto’s. My tagline is “Question everything.” I see where Kean Miller, LLP is “People First”! After working with Carey for the past two years, I question who are the people that Kean Miller, LLP is actually putting first — your clients or yourselves? You might want to revisit this one.
Revised. May 24, 2016
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