STATEWIDE GRIEVANCE COMMITTEE
Grievance Complaint #03-0197
Pursuant to Practice Book ß2-35, the undersigned, duly-appointed reviewing committee of the Statewide Grievance Committee, conducted a hearing at the Superior Court, 1061 Main Street, Bridgeport, Connecticut on April 14, 2004.† The hearing addressed the record of the complaint filed on September 5, 2003, and the probable cause determination filed by the New Haven Judicial District Grievance Panel for Geographical Area 7 and the towns of Branford, East Haven, Guilford, Madison and North Branford on January 28, 2004, finding that there existed probable cause that the Respondent violated Rules 1.3 and 1.4 of the Rules of Professional Conduct.
Notice of the April 14, 2004 hearing was mailed to the Complainant and to the Respondent on March 1, 2004.† The Complainant and the Respondent appeared and testified at the hearing.
This reviewing committee finds the following facts by clear and convincing evidence:
The Complainant was involved in a motor vehicle accident in 1997 and thereafter retained counsel to pursue a personal injury claim on his behalf.† In or around 2002, the Complainant retained the Respondent to continue pursuing the claim, which was by then in suit.† The Respondent obtained a copy of the Complainantís file and filed an appearance in the Complainantís personal injury lawsuit.
the time that the Respondent filed his appearance in the Complainantís lawsuit,
there was outstanding discovery owed to the defendants.† The discovery issues had been the subject of
prior dismissals.† The Respondent did not
further comply with the discovery and did not seek an extension of time to
comply.† The Respondent also did not
inform the Complainant of his efforts to fully comply with the discovery.† In May of 2002, the Complainantís lawsuit was
dismissed under the courtís docket management system.† The Respondent did not inform the Complainant
that the lawsuit had been dismissed.† The
Respondent timely filed a motion to open the dismissal judgment in July of
2002, but did not claim the matter for argument due to the outstanding
discovery problems.† Thereafter, the
Complainant retained new counsel who informed the Complainant that the lawsuit
had been dismissed.††††
conclude by clear and convincing evidence that the Respondent violated Rules
1.3 and 1.4 of the Rules of Professional Conduct.† After being retained by the Complainant, the
Respondent had the obligation to ensure that outstanding discovery was provided
to opposing counsel.† The Respondent
failed to do so which led, at least in part, to the May, 2002 dismissal.† Although the Respondent filed a motion to
open the judgment, he did not attempt to have the motion acted upon by the
court.† The Respondentís conduct clearly
violated Rule 1.3 of the Rules of Professional Conduct.
The Respondentís communications with his client also fell below ethical standards.† The record was clear to us that the Respondent failed to warn the Complainant about the likelihood of a dismissal should the outstanding discovery not be provided, failed to inform the Complainant of the dismissal and failed to inform the Complainant that he had not pursued the motion to open the dismissal judgment.† The Respondent failed to keep the Complainant reasonably apprised of his lawsuit, in violation of Rule 1.4(a) of the Rules of Professional Conduct.† The Respondentís communication lapses, especially concerning the fact that the case was dismissed in May of 2002, violated Rule 1.4(b) of the Rules of Professional Conduct as they prevented the Complainant from having the opportunity to make informed decisions about his case and the Respondentís continued representation of him.
Accordingly, the Respondent is hereby reprimanded.
Attorney Raymond B. Rubens
Mr. Thomas J. McKiernan