STATEWIDE GRIEVANCE COMMITTEE
Andrew Penny, Complainant vs. Lawrence Kuranko, Respondent
Grievance Complaint #95-0611
Pursuant to Practice Book '27J, the undersigned, duly- appointed reviewing committee of the Statewide Grievance Committee, conducted a hearing at the Superior Court, 235 Church Street, New Haven, Connecticut, on August 7, 1996. The hearing addressed the record of the complaint filed on February 1, 1996, and the probable cause determination filed by the Stamford/Norwalk Judicial District Grievance Panel on May 7, 1996, finding that there existed probable cause that the Respondent violated Rules 1.3, 1.4(a), and 1.4(b) of the Rules of Professional Conduct. The hearing also addressed the additional finding of probable cause rendered by a reviewing committee of the Statewide Grievance Committee that the Respondent violated Rule 7.3(a) of the Rules of Professional Conduct. While written notice of this additional finding was not mailed to the Respondent prior to the date of the hearing on this matter, the Respondent agreed at the hearing to waive written notice of the same, and therefore, this additional finding has been considered by this reviewing committee.
Notice of the hearing was mailed to the Complainant and to the Respondent on July 3, 1996. The Complainant appeared and testified. The Respondent also appeared and testified before this reviewing committee. This reviewing committee also heard the testimony of witnesses Dominick Lato, John Maher, Alex L. Anderson, and Warren Seavy.
This reviewing committee finds the following facts by clear and convincing evidence:
The Respondent represented a Mr. Dominick Lato regarding a legal matter concerning the sale of horses to an individual by the name of Alexis Castillo, and Mr. Castillo's failure to pay for the horses. The Complainant also had a claim against Alexis Castillo regarding the theft of two horses. The Complainant was contacted by telephone by the Respondent who inquired as to whether or not the Complainant would be interested in having the Respondent represent him in an attempt to regain money lost to Castillo. The Respondent indicated to the Complainant that he would be pursuing the similar claims of other clients in a single lawsuit, and that based on the strength of the similar claims, he believed the action would be successful. The Respondent indicated to the Complainant that his fee would be taken care of upon the settlement of the case. The Complainant agreed to have the Respondent pursue the matter. The Respondent did not file suit on the Complainant's behalf, and did not keep the Complainant informed about the status of his matter. While the Respondent testified that he believed his representation of the Complainant would constitute a conflict with his representation of another client, this information was never communicated to the Complainant.
This reviewing committee finds by clear and convincing evidence that the Respondent failed to exercise reasonable diligence in representing the Complainant, in violation of Rule 1.3 of the Rules of Professional Conduct. After contacting the Complainant and indicating his intention to pursue the Complainant's matter, the Respondent failed to pursue the Complainant's case. The Respondent also failed to communicate with the Complainant regarding the status of the matter, or to advise the Complainant that he would not or could not pursue the case. The Respondent's failure to either communicate with the Complainant or take action to pursue the matter constitutes a lack of diligence in violation of Rule 1.3 of the Rules of Professional Conduct. His failure to communicate with the Complainant also violated Rules 1.4(a) and 1.4(b) of the Rules of Professional Conduct. Finally, by initiating telephone contact with a prospective client for the purposes of obtaining professional employment, the Respondent violated Rule 7.3(a) of the Rules of Professional Conduct. Therefore, it is our recommendation that the Statewide Grievance Committee reprimand the Respondent.
Attorney Lewis A. Hurwitz
Attorney Alfred R. Belinkie