I am filing this complaint against the Gasaway and Massey Law Firm, located in Clarksville, TN.
Specifically, I wish to address the inadequate representation, unethical behavior, and excessive charges I experienced with Ms. Carrie W. Gasaway.
On 12 August 2008, I paid Ms. Gasaway a retainer fee of $3,500.00 for Attorney Fees/ Court Costs/Consult fee in regards to a child custody issue. When we met on 12 August 2008, we discussed the filing of a petition to establish parentage and to establish a permanent parenting plan. She charge me $100 consult fee, $200 for meeting
On August 19 2008 I sent an email about her paralegal acting unprofessional in regards to a parenting plan petition she wrote up and made serveral mistakes. Charged me $50 to review my email sent and $50 to send me one telling me she was sorry and would correct the new petition. Then Charged me $150 for writing up another petition which she made the mistake on and charged me $250 for writing up the first one?
On 25 August 2008, Ms. Gasaway had a summons served to my ex-girlfriend the mother of our son. The docket hearing was set for 22 September 2008.
$500 to do this.
On 16 2008, I email some info requesting a meeting and some info about the case. Calls made to office went unaddressed so I decided an email might help.
Charged me $50 to read first email, charged me $50 to send me email telling me her paralegal will call me. Three days go by I get the call to come in.
On 19 September 2008, at 3pm, I met with Ms. Gasaway to discuss what to expect on Monday, the scheduled court date for my case. In my opinion, the meeting went well. Ms. Gasaway explained to me that this would be just a docket call hearing and to set up a temporary child custody schedule until the final court date would be set. Charged me $150 for this meeting? Less than thirty min.
Ms. Gasaway then mentioned that she had to go to another court hearing in Dover, TN on 22 September. She asked me if it was alright to send instead her law partner, Sharon Massey, to represent me on Monday. She said: Ms. Massey is meaner than me and she will get you the Temporary Child Custody Schedule with no problem.
On 22 September 2008, when I met Ms. Massey at the court house that morning, she stated that Mart G. Fendley, who is Karie Fuentes' lawyer, had said that there were no problems with you seeing your son. I explained to Ms. Massey, as I had previously explained to Ms. Gasaway, that I was only allowed to see my son when it was convenient for his mother or only when she had to work late. I only see my son on Thursdays when I pick him up from day care. Then his mother comes by my house to pick him up and take to her house. I also pick him up from day care on Fridays and keep him until Saturday mornings, because his mother works late on Friday nights. Before I could finish my sentence, Ms. Massey cut me off and stated that I didn't need to stay at the court, that she would take care of everything for me. This cost me $250 for Ms. Massey to hear court date set.
My expectations were that I would hear from my law office about the outcome of the court hearing that day. When no one called me, I called the office on 23 Sept. 2008 at 8:30 am. I spoke to Michelle Reed-Williamson, the paralegal person. She informed me that Ms. Gasaway did not come in until 9:00 am and that she would give her the message that I had called. I did not hear from Ms. Gasaway on 22 Sept. or on 23 Sept. 2008. She charged me $50 each phone call made to her office.
Then I received a letter informing me that the court date had been set for Feb. 2, 2009. No charge for this. Seems odd.
On 24 September 2008, at 9:30am, I called Ms. Gasaway's office to ask about the Temporary Custody Schedule I was supposed to get. Michelle informed me that Ms. Gasaway was with a client and that Ms. Gasaway had received my message to call me. I waited until 2:30pm that day and called Ms. Gasaway on her cell phone. I left a message regarding my concerns about the docket hearing 3 days ago and asked why I had not received the Temporary Custody Schedule which she had promised me to receive on Friday.
This cost me $75 for her to listen to message?
About twenty minutes later, Ms. Gasaway called. She started out by yelling and screaming at me for calling her on her cell phone, that this number was not to be used by clients, and where did I get this number from. I was completely stunned by her angry outburst and rudeness towards me. I finally got a word in, explaining that I was given her cell phone number by my sister-in-law, who had consulted Ms. Gasaway earlier in the year, when the child's mother had moved out of my house and I had no idea where my son was, and that at that time, Ms. Gasaway had given out her cell number.
Ms. Gasaway continued to yell and scream at me telling me that she was tired of me calling her and asked me what I expected of her as my attorney. I apologized to Ms. Gasaway for calling on her cell phone and told her that calling her office and leaving messages to please call me did not bring any results. I explained to her that I was simply trying to get an answer to my question why I had not received the Temporary Custody Schedule as promised.
Ms. Gasaway became even more belligerent towards me. She said that Ms. Massey deals with Judge Grimes on a daily basis and knew he wouldn't have time to listen to her and that's why she left. I was very unhappy to hear this, because Ms. Gasway had told me during the 19 September meeting that everything would be taken care of by Ms. Massey and that there wouldn't be any problems.
Ms. Gasaway further berated me by stating that if you want a lawyer who sits by the phone waiting for you to call you need to find another lawyer!
I told her that I merely had the expectation for my call to be returned in a reasonable amount of time. She replied that it took at least 24 hours to hear from her. Then she accused me of having called her office five (5) times. This is not true. I had called her office three (3) times. As mentioned above, I called on Tuesday at 8:30 am (when she was not in yet) and at 9:30am, and again on Wednesday at 9:30am (when she was with a client. She screamed: Five, three, it doesn't matter! I am not going to sit next to my phone waiting for you to call! I told her I couldn't do that because I didn't have that kind of money, and that I had already paid her $3,500.00 to represent me.
Ms. Gasaway then said she would call me back and that she would try to get another court date for the Temporary Custody Schedule. When she did call back, she continued to act in a very bizarre and rude manner. It was obvious that she was very upset. She stated that there was no court date available before the scheduled date of Feb. 2, 2009. She said in a loud and angry tone of voice that I had an attitude ever since I came to her, that she was tired of my complaining and that, if I didn't like the way she was handling my case I could find another lawyer! This outburst of anger and these false allegations totally blew me away. I was stunned and very upset and disappointed. We had only met once (during our initial meeting), which I felt had gone well, and I felt that I had been very respectful to her then and during the phone call. I cannot accept and understand that she spoke to me in such an unprofessional and berating manner. I am still reeling from the way she spoke to me on the phone just because I had called her on her cell phone.
Ms. Gasaway proceeded to tell me that she would be sending me an itemized bill for the work she had done for me because she no longer was representing me. She hung up before I could say another word.
That evening I sent her 3 email pointing out several Professional Rules of Conduct Lawyers have to abide by. This Cost me $400. Guess this was my mistake.
On 6 2008, I hand delivered a letter reguarding termination of representation
She charged me $25 to review?
On 10 October 2008, I received Ms. Gasaway's final itemized bill. I was in shock and disbelief at the excessive and inflated charges. I have enclosed for your review a copy of this itemized bill. Ms. Gasaway charged me for services that were never accomplished, she inflated the number of minutes it took to read an e-mail or to get my message from her paralegal to please call me, etc. she even charged me $100 for filing her motion to withdraw from the case. And charged me $50 to send me the letter allowing withdrawal.
I am in total shock and disbelief that a so called professional, a lawyer, can act this way and charge these types of fees for not doing anything worth the amount she is charging. Out of the $3,500.00 I paid her, I received a refund of only $1,283.95. I had paid her the $3,500.00 in advance for the following services: The signing of one document (Parental partnership), going to one docket hearing (where Ms. Massey left without presenting my case), a couple of phone calls and mails.
Ms. Gasaway's lack of adequate and timely representation, her greed, her rudeness and unprofessional conduct, her dishonesty in calculating charges on her itemized bill, all this has caused me financial hardships, a huge amount of anxiety and worry and emotional suffering. It is my personal belief that Ms. Gasaway is having some serious personal problems of her own and that she should not be practicing law until they are cleared up.
I am not at all certain that filing this complaint will result in much of anything, but my hope is that the bar will at least be aware of the despicable actions committed by one of Clarksville's lawyers and that they will look into my complaint.
One horse town, Tennessee
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