On Monday, August 7, 2023, the Arkansas Business reported that Little Rock attorney Josh Sanford and his law firm received a temporary reprieve from their suspension order issued by U.S. District Judge Billy Roy Wilson. The suspension came as a result of allegations of charging excessive attorneys fees and unnecessarily prolonging a class-action lawsuit. However, pending their appeal, Sanford and his firm have been granted permission to continue practicing law in federal court.
The suspension order, initially issued on July 19, 2023, mandated a two-year suspension for Sanford and his law firm from practicing law in the Eastern District of Arkansas.
The suspension stemmed from a 2018 lawsuit filed on behalf of workers at Welspun Pipes, Inc., accusing the company of underpaying the workers for overtime hours and violating federal wage and hour laws. In May 2020, Judge Wilson rejected a settlement due to concerns over excessive attorney’s fees. Following negotiations, a liability settlement was approved, but an agreement on attorney’s fees couldn’t be reached. In June 2020, Judge Wilson awarded the Sanford Law Firm only $1 in fees. The firm appealed, and the case was remanded back to Judge Wilson. In September 2021, he awarded the firm $500 in fees and criticized their conduct. The firm appealed again, but the decision was upheld. Judge Wilson then issued a two-year suspension for attorney Sanford and the firm.
However, just two days later, Judge Wilson amended the order to specify that Sanford and his firm were suspended solely from handling Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) cases in the district for 24 months.
Sanford promptly appealed Wilson’s order to the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis.
Sanford expressed his dissatisfaction with Judge Wilson’s order, stating in an email to Arkansas Business, “Judge Wilson’s Order is wrong on the facts and the law.”He conveyed his anticipation that the Court of Appeals would eventually clear his name and vindicate both himself and Sanford Law Firm.
Sanford believed that once other judges have the opportunity to review the allegations made against him, the issues will be resolved in a timely manner. He asserted that his firm has always strived to comply with the policies of the judges before whom they practice.
The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals subsequently granted a temporary stay, allowing Sanford and his firm to continue their legal practice while the appeal is pending.
Source: Arkansas Business