David Manko, Complainant vs. Frances J. Ficarra, Respondent
Grievance Complaint #03-0442
Pursuant to Practice Book §2-35, the undersigned, duly-appointed reviewing committee of the Statewide Grievance Committee, conducted a hearing at the Superior Court, 80 Washington Street, Hartford, Connecticut on May 6, 2004. The hearing addressed the record of the complaint filed on November 21, 2003, and the probable cause determination filed by the Fairfield Judicial District Grievance Panel on January 15, 2004, finding that there existed probable cause that the Respondent violated Rules 1.1, 1.3, 1.4 and 8.4(4) of the Rules of Professional Conduct, and Practice Book §2-32(a)(1).
Notice of the hearing was mailed to the Complainant and to the Respondent on March 29, 2004. The Complainant appeared at the hearing and gave testimony, represented by Attorney Ira Grudberg. The Respondent did not appear.
Reviewing committee member Attorney Kathleen Stingle was not available for the hearing. Since the Complainant waived Attorney Stingle’s participation, this decision was rendered by the undersigned.
This reviewing committee finds the following facts by clear and convincing evidence:
The Complainant was injured in an automobile accident on May 5, 1997. The Respondent was retained to bring an action on the Complainant’s behalf. The Respondent filed the lawsuit on or about May 5, 1999. The defendant in the action filed discovery requests, which the Respondent never answered. On March 29, 2000, the lawsuit was dismissed for failure to answer the defendant’s discovery requests. The Respondent did not move to reopen the file nor did he seek to reinstitute the lawsuit under the accidental failure of suit statute. The Respondent never informed the Complainant that the lawsuit had been dismissed. On a number of occasions and as recently as early in 2003, the Respondent told the Complainant that the case was still pending.
The Respondent did not file an answer to the grievance complaint.
This reviewing committee concludes by clear and convincing evidence that the Respondent violated the Rules of Professional Conduct. In allowing the lawsuit to be dismissed, and not reopening or reinstituting it, the Respondent failed to act with reasonable competence or diligence, in violation of Rules 1.1 and 1.3, respectively, of the Rules of Professional Conduct. The Respondent failed to communicate to the Complainant the actual status of the claim, in violation of Rule 1.4 of the Rules of Professional Conduct. The Respondent’s failure to take any action in the matter or inform the Complainant as to its status over a period of approximately three years also constitutes conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice, in violation of Rule 8.4(4) of the Rules of Professional Conduct. The Respondent’s failure to answer the grievance complaint constitutes a violation of Practice Book §2-32(a)(1).
It is the decision of this reviewing committee that the Respondent be presented to the Superior Court for the imposition of whatever discipline the court deems appropriate. Since the presentment will be a trial de novo, it is further ordered that the presentment complaint contain a charge that the Respondent misrepresented the status of the matter to the Complainant, in violation of Rule 8.4(3) of the Rules of Professional Conduct.
Attorney Geoffrey Naab
Dr. Frank G. Regan