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Legal woes deepen for Orson “O.J.” Elrington as General Legal Council finds ‘grave professional misconduct’ in handling of Social Security Board claim

Posted: Wednesday, April 24, 2024. 9:48 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: Attorney Orson Elrington must explain to the General Legal Council (GLC) on May 24 why he must not be sanctioned for alleged grave professional misconduct in his handling of a Social Security Board (SSB) claim and subsequent settlement on behalf of Pastor Dozie Ifeanyichineke of Dangriga Town.

Those sanctions include, in descending order of severity, (a) the removal of the attorney’s name from the Roll; (b) the removal of the attorney from practice on such conditions as the Council may determine; (c) the imposition on the attorney of such fine as it may think proper; (d) subjecting the attorney to a reprimand; (e) the payment by any party of costs or of such sum as the Council may consider a reasonable contribution towards cost; and (f) the payment by the attorney of any such sum by way of restitution as the Council may consider reasonable. The recommendation on any sanction would be made by the Council to the Chief Justice.

Elrington represented Dozie against the Board on alleged discrimination on a claim of survivor’s grant benefits which he applied for when his wife died in 2021 but which was not granted as such claims were restricted to widows only. (The Board has recommended to Government amendments to the law to ensure equal treatment.)

A settlement of nearly $47,000 was reached after negotiation between SSB and Elrington in October of 2023, but Pastor Dozie has yet to receive his payout less contingency legal fees for the claim. Pastor Dozie also reported to the Council that he had not consented to a settlement and had signed only one engagement letter with Elrington, of which he provided evidence.

The Council’s ruling found issues with Elrington’s recollection of events and concerns about his reliance on a paralegal to deal with clients and legal processes, and referred to police for further investigation the authenticity of the second engagement letter that Dozie denied signing.

Elrington expressed disagreement with the decision both in a formal statement and an interview with Channel 5 News. Father Senior Counsel Hubert Elrington, who represented his son before the GLC, issued a release that states, in part, “While we may not fully agree with this decision, as officers of the court, we respect the authority of the General Legal Council. We intend to present our reasons to the GLC as to why we believe no sanctions are warranted in this case. Following the outcome of these discussions, we will proceed accordingly based on further instructions.”

The younger Elrington told Channel 5 News that the victory achieved in the acceptance that the law discriminated against men and that the case was essentially taken on a contingency basis, which means the legal work was done in anticipation of a fee to be collected if the claim was successful, has been overshadowed by the issue of the client’s consent to the settlement and how it was obtained. He claims he got the client’s oral consent, but not in writing as he instructed his employee to do, and now the client is balking at paying the legal fees because he had expected more. In fact, Pastor Dozie admitted he had not provided Elrington with his banking details to transfer the funds.

 

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