Tax attorneys sued for alleged malpractice

Catherine Melancon Nov. 15, 2012, 4:19am

Jacques F. Bezou

BATON ROUGE – A St. John the Baptist Parish company is suing its former tax attorneys, located in Baton Rouge, for alleged malpractice.

Louisiana Machinery Rentals, LLC and Louisiana Machinery Company, LLC filed suit against Kean Miller, LLP, Linda S. Akchin, Christopher J. Dicharry, Pamela R. Mascari and its insurers in the 19th Judicial Court on Nov. 2.

Akchin, Dicharry and Mascari were employed by Kean Miller, and provided services for the plaintiff as property, sales and use tax attorneys since the 1990s.

The plaintiff claims that in 2007, multiple parishes began auditing it to determine whether the companies owed local sales and use taxes between the dates of Dec. 1, 2000 through June 30, 2007.

Between September and October 2010, 11 parishes instituted proceedings in their respective district courts to collect sales and use taxes that Louisiana Machinery allegedly owed, along with penalties, interest and audit fees.

The plaintiff claims it terminated the defendants on Oct. 31, 2011, and hired Jones, Walker, Waechter, Poitevent, Carrere and Denegre, LLP to take over the sales tax litigation.

The company claims the attorneys began to come up with a plan of action to handle the suits, and during that process, they found out that the defendants allegedly had failed to meet the strict requirements of the Louisiana law when drafting final assessment notices for all but one tax collector.

The sales tax lawsuits that are pending are in various stages of appeal and the Louisiana Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments in the matters filed by the tax collectors for Caldwell and Tensas parishes on Dec. 4, 2012, the suit says.

The defendants are accused of failing to meet the standard of care for attorneys in handling sales and use tax litigation, issuing defective assessment notices and vicarious liability.

An unspecified amount in damages is sought for attorneys' fees paid to defendants, attorneys' fees to correct defendants' omissions and payments made to the Jefferson Parish tax collector after all avenues of appeals had been exhausted. The plaintiff is requesting a trial by jury.

The plaintiff is represented by Jacques F. Bezou and Stacy R. Palowsky of The Bezou Law Firm in Covington.

The case has been assigned to Division E Judge William A. Morvant.

Case no. 616658.

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