Indy law firm accuses former lawyer of keeping more than $100K in unpaid attorney fees

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Indianapolis law firm Gilbert Legal Services LLC is suing one of its former attorneys for allegedly setting up work with a new client at a different firm while still employed at GLS, along with continuing to accept student loan reimbursements despite having already paid off the loans.

According to the lawsuit, filed Monday in the Marion Superior Court, the attorney, Valerie Horvath, informed GLS of her resignation and gave a two-week notice on May 18, about two weeks after entering into a new compensation agreement through 2024 and receiving a $5,000 bonus.

On the same day, the complaint alleges Horvath, using GLS resources, had a phone consultation with a person about engaging in legal representation and sent an engagement letter from her GLS email for the client to be represented by Horvath through another firm she was purportedly joining June 1.

GLS estimates it is owed more than $100,000 in attorney fees for at least 10 client matters Horvath handled, the lawsuit says.

“Despite GLS remaining the rightful recipient for amounts due in connection with any time worked on clients before Horvath’s departure, and repeated demands for Horvath to either pay over the amounts collected for these clients after Horvath’s departure or to deposit the collected funds in C&M’s trust account to secure them, Horvath has refused to make such written commitment,” the complaint alleges.

Reached by email, Horvath said she is being represented by Julie Camden of Camden & Meridew P.C. — the firm Horvath joined after leaving GLS.

Without a written commitment, GLS said in the complaint it “remains insecure and in fear that those funds will not be paid over to GLS, not set aside in a trust, or will be diverted.”

The law firm is accusing Horvath of going to the office toward the end of her employment to download items from the firm’s server without authorization and wiping her company-owned computer.

The lawsuit also alleges that as part of her employment with GLS, the firm paid reimbursements toward Horvath’s student loans. However, the firm suspects she continued accepting payments after the loans were paid off in full and said she didn’t provide documentation to support her payment of student loan debt, which GLS requested.

The lawsuit says it is “reasonably believed that she used that money for other unauthorized purposes.”

Additionally, the lawsuit says Horvath was allowed to use a Honda vehicle owned by the firm, with an understanding that the firm was responsible for paying the insurance, sales tax and annual registration costs. GLS agreed it would eventually sign the title over to Horvath, on the condition that she remained with the firm through the end of 2024.

The complaint says Horvath was in an accident while driving the car, and the firm provided her with a rental while it was being repaired.

However, upon returning the rental vehicle, the lawsuit alleges an insurance company informed the firm that the car had been damaged while Horvath had it.

The lawsuit alleges breach of fiduciary duty, constructive trust, breach of contract, tortious interference with contractual relationship and negligence. Horvath is also accused of violating the Indiana Computer Trespass Law, Indiana Code § 35-43-1-7.

GLS is represented by Stoll Keenon Ogden.

A motion for hearing is pending.

The case is Gilbert Legal Services, LLC v. Valerie Horvath, 49D01-2308-PL-032842.

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