published Saturday, October 6th, 2012

Tennessee Supreme Court upholds suspension of Chattanooga lawyer

Fred Hanzelik
Fred Hanzelik
Photo by Angela Lewis /Chattanooga Times Free Press.
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The Tennessee Supreme Court has unanimously upheld the 45-day suspension of a Chattanooga attorney's law license.

Fred T. Hanzelik was disciplined by the Board of Professional Responsibility after he attempted to bill one client twice for the same services and repeatedly failed to properly inform and assist another client, according to a news release.

Last week, the Supreme Court agreed that Hanzelik violated ethical rules regarding the collection of fees, communication with clients, expediting legislation and cooperating with investigations.

Hanzelik said he disagrees with the Supreme Court, but he will follow the court's orders.

"I disagree with the suspension because I believe that I did not do anything improper or incorrect," he said. "However, I did not have a choice in the matter and will be honoring the suspension as ordered."

In one case, the release said, a client paid Hanzelik for his services in a property dispute. The client later died and Hanzelik filed a claim against the estate for payment on the same services. The claim was not withdrawn until the estate gave Hanzelik evidence that he had already been paid in full, the release said.

Hanzelik said the situation was an innocent mistake.

"My secretary, while I was out of the country in or around 2005 or 2006, innocently filed a claim with an estate of a client unbeknownst to me," he said.

"When I got back from vacation, it was learned several weeks later that my secretary filed the claim. I was unaware that she did it and when I discovered the innocent mistake, I immediately withdrew the claim my secretary filed."

In another case, a physician represented by Hanzelik was held in contempt of court because he was not told about mandatory court appearances.

The doctor also wanted to file a wrongful termination suit against former employers, but Hanzelik did not file it for more than a year, nor did he tell the physician that he never planned on filing it, the release said.

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