Arizona Small Businesses Caught in Crosshairs of Questionable Legal Practices
Scottsdale, AZ (August 17, 2023) A disturbing pattern is emerging as small businesses across Arizona find themselves trapped in unnecessary legal disputes. Rather than exploring alternatives, certain attorneys appear quick to escalate matters to litigation, burdening small business owners with legal fees and draining time from their companies.
One such case involves Lauren Rosenberg, owner of Lifestyles With Lauren, LLC. After hiring South Mountain Films, LLC (SMF) to shoot and edit a television pilot, Rosenberg observed continuing deficiencies in their work and canceled the contract with SMF in accordance with the terms outlined in the SMF Agreement. She had fulfilled her end of the agreement, paying SMF over $6,000. Surprisingly, upon learning of the cancelation, SMF ceased all communication with Rosenberg and swiftly enlisted the services of Real Estate Attorney and Litigator, Patrick R. MacQueen. MacQueen acted as their Collection Agency, aggressively demanding additional unjustified payments, totaling almost $3,500. MacQueen refused to explain to Rosenberg the basis for these charges and would not release raw footage owned by Rosenberg unless she paid the additional invoice in full.
Rosenberg’s quest for a fair resolution led her to Small Claims Court, where she hoped to find justice and answers to her questions for what should have been a straightforward matter. However, even this arena is not immune to manipulation, as her opponent's attorney seeks to escalate the case to Justice Court for unjustified financial gains.
In response, Rosenberg, a veteran publicist, filed a complaint against Attorney Patrick R. MacQueen with the State Bar of Arizona, alleging unethical behavior in pressuring her to pay an inflated and unexplained invoice. MacQueen’s intimidation tactics raise ethical concerns, as does the Arizona State Bar's apparent endorsement of his approach. According to the Bar, MacQueen was simply doing his job for SMF and even approved his elevating the case to Justice Court, likely to increase his own billable hours. The Bar's endorsement of MacQueen's tactics, including the unwarranted escalation of the case, raises questions about the institution's commitment to ethical legal practices.
Rosenberg's experience highlights how easily small business disputes morph into legal battles. Attorneys like MacQueen seem eager to strongarm and profit from escalation, rather than resolution. This problematic dynamic not only hampers entrepreneurship but overburdens Arizona's courts.
Small businesses drive our state's economy and must be protected. Litigation should be a last resort. Rosenberg’s persistence in seeking transparency and fairness exemplifies the need for an open dialogue on ethical practices and the role of legal professionals in safeguarding small business interests.
Arizona needs ethical standards and incentives that favor open communication to resolution over confrontation and ramping up fees. Small business owners already wear many hats―they should not have to become legal experts or empty their coffers to defend themselves against questionable attorneys. It's time to even the playing field.