Take a few minutes and watch this amazing story told by the people involved.
Take a few minutes and watch this amazing story told by the people involved.
I wanted to take a moment and share the experience my girlfriend and I had with Jodi M. Gladstone. This is merely to inform potential clients of our experience with Jodi M. Gladstone and the law firm of Lombardi Law in Providence Rhode Island where she is employed as an attorney. The information contained in this Blog, Website, Graphics and Videos is intended for informational purposes only.
Jodi M Gladstone – Attorney at Lombardi Law Associates
How an unemployed single mother with 4 children was taken on a $9,000 legal adventure only to have her entrusted lawyer withdraw from the case two weeks before trial without verbal warning
MY EXPERIENCE WITH ATTORNEY JODI GLADSTONE OF LOMBARDI LAW ASSOCIATES (PROVIDENCE, RI)
Prepared by Ra-Mu Al-Mahdi:(Client’s boyfriend)
Date: September 24, 2012
*This entire document combines concrete facts and opinions from Ra-Mu Al-Mahdi and is meant to educate readers regarding a particular recent experience. There is no intent for defamation or slander. Ra-Mu Al-Mahdi has a copy of the case file and numerous documents to support his opinion.*
It’s a shame that this letter has to be written. My girlfriend Janine Hudson is the real victim here. She put her sole trust in the legal system to get here one step closer to securing her children who are in danger. She needed a lawyer, and advisor, a mother figure, and a friend. She originally thought that person was attorney Jodi Gladstone, a single mother herself, whose persona comes off as bold, aggressive, and fierce. We thought that this individual was going to be the perfect fit for her family case.
Currently, Janine is emotionally drained. Jodi’s withdrawal from the case represents yet another major tragedy in her life. She gave every nickel that she had to pay for her legal woes. For every week in 2012, there was a choice between paying child support that was accruing, paying living expenses, or paying her lawyer. She chose to pay her lawyer. I have never seen dedication like that from an individual that had so little. She is my hero; she reminds me of my mother. She saw her kids during the set visitation, paid her lawyer timely every week, and never complained.
She deserved better than what she received in the end.
Today, her fight is frail. Her faith is torn. Her trust has been shattered.
She deserves a better outcome.
Let’s start from the beginning. I personally know Jodi Gladstone from a prior experience with BNI(Business Networking International) from 2008 to 2010. For those unaware to what BNI is: it’s a weekly networking meeting comprised of various professional from numerous fields(lawyers, accountants, mortgage specialist, etc). Her slogan was “I may look sweet but I can’t be beat”. She made an impression on me and I must have made an impression on her. My company (disc jockey entertainment) performed at her son’s bar mitzvah to rave reviews. We gave her the family price. We could have charged her $3000-$4000. We charged her less than $1000. No hidden fees: the “BNI referral price”! We took care of her!
Naturally when I needed a lawyer in 2011, Ms. Gladstone was the obvious choice. I was falsely accused of disorderly conduct and was not about to let my reputation be tarnished. Not only was I returning the BNI referral favor but I thought that Jodi would be aggressive and on top of taking care of business. I paid her $2500 retainer (in cash) and the job was done effectively.
It is important to tell the above story to depict that there had been some financial trust established. I wasn’t just someone off the street. At this point I trusted her.
During my two-month legal saga, my girlfriend Janine was involved in a custody nightmare. Jodi was interested in taking the case, but only after my case was resolved. We had been looking for an affordable family lawyer for months without success. When we found out the Jodi practiced family law, we were thrilled. Prior to that, I thought that she only practiced criminal law. During the summer of 2011, Jodi took on the case for my girlfriend. We initially paid her a $1500 retainer and in September of 2011, she went to trial and was able to establish partial visitation for my girlfriend.
Visitation comprised of: Tuesdays and Thursdays 3pm-7pm, and Sundays 8am-Monday 7am(every other Sunday) and the alternate week Sunday’s 2pm-Mondays 8am)
This was a legal start.
Prior to the trial, my girlfriend has not seen her 4 children for 11 months. The biological father, Baretta Cheek of Bristol, was playing hardball and prevented her from seeing her children. Janine’s own children once admitted to thinking that their mother was dead once the visitation had begun. During those 11 months, I personally remember Janine calling the biological father 10 times a day to speak to the children only to be that they were not there on that they were sleeping. This went on for 11 months.
On Christmas eve of 2011, during a visitation drop off, the biological father became belligerent and in a weird twist of events was hit by a car (not fatally) and was found to be highly intoxicated with drug paraphernalia in his possession.
This incident followed a DCYF investigation in which the biological father was found guilty of aggressively beating at least 2 of the children!
That is when Jodi was contacted for legal services involving potential full custody of the children.
This is when the legal nightmare began!
Ms. Gladstone and Janine agreed on a payment plan. With financial trust already established, Janine and Jodi agreed that an $100 a week payment schedule be put in place and that billing be discussed, thoroughly documented and agreed upon leading up to a trial date in April of 2012. I had informed Jodi at that time that Janine would be helping my DJ business out on the weekend in order to pay her fee. I had also informed Jodi that if it came down to it, I would help pay the balance when the trial date came closer. I love my girlfriend and am personally invested in her and her children’s success and well-being.
In my opinion, there was a great case building by the initial trial date of April 2012, to grant Janine emergency custody of her children. The highlights of the prosecution’s possible arguments are highlighted below:
Approximately 24 hours before the major April trial date, Janine was informed that the case would have to be continued. Why? The reason or excuse? : The biological father could get a babysitter. What? The trial date fell during school vacation week and would have to continued for a new trial date in June. In my opinion, I found the continuance to be shameful. There were serious arguments described above that were of an urgent nature. Kids in danger. Enough said! The father can’t get a babysitter? The kids had stated that they had a least 6 babysitters, one of them being a teacher at their elementary school(That’s a whole other story).
Janine had been patiently waiting 4 months only to be told that the new trial date was in June.
Before the June trial date, Jodi was very difficult to get a hold of. Janine must have called at least 200 times within a two-month period to speak to the paralegal Zack most of the time. Jodi’s former paralegal had mysteriously disappeared. Numerous voicemails were left for Jodi without being answered.
This wasn’t the 1st red flag.
In my opinion, I found that the “bold and aggressive” Jodi that I thought Janine had hired was very “meek and timid” in court. The opposing counsel, Jane Howlett of Bristol, seemed to be in control and bullied Jodi. Months later I was informed that the two were friends and knew each other very well outside of court. Bizarre. Months later I was also informed that the two were on the commerce committee together for Rhode Island court(not too sure of the details).
When Janine was becoming frustrated with that lack of customer service, I told her to not worry and that Jodi would come through in the court room. “She may look sweet but she can’t be beat.” Right? In my opinion, as long a Janine’s case was building in right direction, there was no need to micromanage Jodi. We trusted her expertise. I personally didn’t speak up when I saw the red flags because I did not want it to affect Janine’s case.
There was another incident in which a private investigator was hired upon Jodi’s recommendation and his “work” was tacked on to the accruing bill. The biological father who does not have a driver’s license had been seen driving the children around Warren. Instead of doing surveillance work(what we thought we were getting), a $400 bill was submitted for a two page written report that the investigator had written that regurgitated what we had told him over a coffee meeting. No surveillance had been attempted. I found the bill to be shameful and decided to pay it and cut my losses. When I googled the name of the investigator, pages upon pages of articles came up detailing this former FBI agents affiliation with the mafia. Why would anyone recommend such a character? This confirmed my suspicions. RED FLAG!
The June trial date was here. Once again 24 hours in advance, we were informed that this would not be a trial. This would be a pre trial to discuss the summer visitation schedule which already been completed in fall 2011. Also, the biological father was attempting to take out a retraining order on me. Funny, since I have no contact with him at all. More stalling tactics from the defense attorney and her client, in my opinion. More time wasted. The new trial date couldn’t be in August. Jane was on vacation. Kids in danger! Lawyer vacations. Guess which one takes precedence.
The legal billing keeps accruing. In my opinion, I do not know what for.
I had a chance to look at Janine’s bill in the month of June. I read itemized lines like:
Phone conference with opposing counsel: $200
Email conference: $150
Phone conference Janine: $150
Conference with Ra-Mu: $125
You’re getting the picture!
Not trying to be sarcastic here. Jodi had inquired if I was available to do her daughter’s wedding. Although already booked, I called around to other DJ’s and recommended some equally talented vendors. I never submitted her a bill for: Wedding Vendor Research: $500
This was of course Jodi, my friend from BNI.
If Janine made $150 helping me out on any given weekend, $125 went to Jodi(She has detailed records proving this). If she made $100, $75 went to the lawyer. She was very dedicated to paying her legal fees. The problem was that the fees were accruing faster than she could pay them. The fees were also never explained and she had no concrete proof any real work was being done. Jodi was harder than ever to get on the phone and phone calls were never returned.
At this point in time, Janine had paid approximately $4000 in legal fees thus far in 2012 without going to trial nor getting the customer service she deserved.
At this time, the new trial date is set for September 13th, 2012.
In the months of July and August, new evidence had emerged supporting Janine’s case. The biological father had signed over his parental rights to Bradley Hospital for the oldest child Joshua Cheek age 9.
The above incident is the one that hurts Janine and I the most. The child is still at Bradley hospital to this day with no sign of getting out soon. This tragedy perhaps could have been avoided in the trial had happened in April or June.
Also, evidence supporting tax fraud committed by the biological father and an accomplice involving the children was presented to Jodi.
In my opinion, the case is looking strong. Trial date is September 13th. Right?
Jodi is still figuratively missing in action. Janine talks to the paralegal Zack on a daily basis. She continues to make her payments leaving little money for her.
Janine had opened another case with Jodi back in April. This was a negligence case against Hugh Cole Elementary School in Warren. One of Janine’s children had burned his finger at the after school program. Lombardi Law quickly took on the case. Jodi has yet to inform Janine of any of the details of this case.
Ironically she has not withdrawn from this above case. An absolute “win” case for Lombardi law. Yet another Red Flag!
As August was winding down, Janine was very frustrated with her legal experience with Jodi. So was I. We did not want to let our frustration affect her case. It was coming up quickly. Janine had continued to make her payments with the billing accruing quickly for alleged work that was never discussed or explained. Jodi was still unavailable on the phone and not returning phone calls. We were about to hire Zach, the paralegal, but he is not an attorney.
I suggested that Janine send Jodi and email. We hadn’t heard from her in months. A few days later, Janine received a cold email that stated “could she please bring her balance current”-brief and uninviting. Also, Jodi informed me that she would need another $2500 to go to trial on September 13th and it could accrue $1000 per day afterwards depending on the length of the trial.
At that point, I felt that I needed to step in. Janine was quickly losing faith that the biggest day in her adult life, the upcoming trial on September 13, was going to be a dismal failure and complete waste of time. Perhaps there was going to be another continuance for fiscal 2015. Who knows?
I went to see principal owner Frank Lombardi during the 3rd week in August. Janine at this point did not want to go for fear of upsetting Jodi and somehow ruining her case. I was very polite and so was Frank. I wanted to get some assurance that Frank Lombardi knew who my girlfriend was and the magnitude of the case. I also informed him of Jodi’s payment plan and that Janine had made a consistent good faith effort to keep up with the payments by working part time around her current visitation schedule. We shook hands and I told him that I would personally pay the legal bill balance as the date approached. I also informed him that I would personally offset the hardship by selling some DJ equipment or borrowing the money if need be.
Wednesday, August 29, 2012, will be a day that Janine and I remember for a long time. We had been in the process of moving that week from Providence to a neighboring Rhode Island town. Janine called be hysterically crying that she had just received a certified letter in the mail stating that Jodi had withdrawn from the case. She personally had not heard from Jodi in months. At that current point in time, Janine had personally paid close to $6000 in legal fees from the months of January thru late August. The current bill stated that there was still a balance. I had informed Jodi since the beginning and Frank (just a week ago) that we would find a way to pay the balance. My own brother was going to loan me $3000 so that Janine would have a lawyer show up to trial on September 13th.
Immediately after Janine’s phone call, I rushed over to Lombardi Law on Broadway in Providence. Even in the middle of moving, this was an emergency. Jodi was brought into the meeting with Frank and I. I pleaded my case to have them uphold their end of the bargain. Janine had paid them every nickel she earned this year. It was nearly impossible for her to obtain regular 9-5 employment due to her current visitation schedule. I have watched Janine go on countless interviews and aggressively look for employment. We are indeed in a tough economy. There was one instance in which she was hired for a job and on the 1st day of work, was told that the job was no longer available. It had been a long an exhausting year.
My legal discussion with Frank and Jodi was short lived. In my opinion, it was all about the money for Jodi. I knew that she was on salary with commission incentives. Perhaps, Janine’s bill was needed to fill a quota. On the one hand, Janine had given her lawyer everything that she had. On the other hand, she had an alleged legal effort that was accruing faster than she could pay it. Jodi was aware from the beginning that Janine was making about $100-$125 a week.
Is it ethical to bill a client more that their weekly salary for one phone conference?
So there I was without an answer. Janine was without a lawyer for September 13th. Janine was without hope. Her dignity was robbed. Just another disappointment for a single mother of 4. She’s mad at me for the lawyer that I recommended through a BNI referral. She has a point! So what, that she paid close to $6000 for legal fees in 2012? So what, that she has less that $20 to her name. That’s business right?
Janine had less than two weeks to find a lawyer. We got a tip for a lawyer in Woonsocket from a person who was in a similar situation. The lawyer John Pelizzari of Woonsocket was a straight shooter that charged $1000 for his services. He informed Janine that there would be no other hidden fees and no shameful and unconscionable charges for customer service phone calls. He represented Janine on September 13th and was successfully able to get her increased visitation. She is one step closer to getting her kids out of danger and with an honorable lawyer on her side, she has regained her faith. Josh Cheek, the oldest child, is still at Bradley Hospital. We see him 3 days a week(as the visitation schedule permits) and we urge the doctors to let him out soon. The kid doesn’t belong there in my opinion.
In my opinion, I think Janine is entitled to some or all of her money back based on the bullet points below:
For those reading this, thank you in advance for your concern. Hopefully our story will educate and prevent this from happening to someone else in need!