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West Virginia Attorney Suspended for Three Years for Overbilling Clients

{Reported in the West Virginia Record} In early March, attorney Richard Lancianese had his West Virginia Bar License suspended for a term of three years following an investigation into his overbilling practices. The Lawyer Disciplinary Board found that over a period of 7 years the lawyer had repeatedly “knowingly submitted false [and] inflated bills” to clients.

The client BorgWarner, Inc., an automotive parts manufacturer, was being represented by Lancianese in an asbestos related action. The investigation was sparked during a routine audit in 2007 which uncovered double billing of two of BorgWarner’s insurance carriers for the same events, rather than splitting the cost between the two. The resulting internal investigation led to a discovery of additional erroneous billings totaling $135,878.68. BorgWarner’s corporate attorneys filed an ethical complaint against Lancianese in 2008 when alerted to the investigation’s findings.

In addition to a three year suspension of his license, the West Virginia Lawyer Disciplinary Board ordered Lancianese to complete 18 hours of Continuing Legal Education in law office management and to pay the entire cost of the disciplinary proceedings. It is reported that the attorney cooperated fully with the investigation and made full restitution to BorgWarner for the overbilling.

*West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals, case number 11-0067.

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