STATEWIDE GRIEVANCE COMMITTEE
Jack L. Rosenblit, Complainant vs. David M. Askinas, Respondent
Grievance Complaint #96-0629
Pursuant to Practice Book '27J, the undersigned, duly-appointed reviewing committee of the Statewide Grievance Committee, conducted a hearing at the Superior Court, 1061 Main Street, Bridgeport, Connecticut on August 13, 1997. The hearing addressed the record of the complaint filed on January 29, 1997, and the probable cause determination filed by the Hartford-New Britain Judicial District, Geographical Areas 13 & 14 Grievance Panel on April 24, 1997, finding that there existed probable cause that the Respondent violated Rule 1.5 of the Rules of Professional Conduct. On July 15, 1997, a reviewing committee of the Statewide Grievance Committee found additional probable cause that the Respondent violated Rule 8.4(d) of the Rules of Professional Conduct.
Notice of the hearing was mailed to the Complainant and to the Respondent on July 7, 1997. The Complainant appeared at the hearing before this reviewing committee. The Respondent did not appear at the hearing before this reviewing committee.
This reviewing committee makes the following findings:
In his complaint, the Complainant, a mortgagee, alleged that the Respondent charged an unreasonable amount for legal services rendered to a mortgagor in a foreclosure action. The Respondent filed an answer to this grievance complaint detailing the services rendered on behalf of his client and denying the allegations of this grievance complaint.
The Complainant, thereafter, alleged that the Complainant and the Respondent signed an agreement for the Complainant to withdraw this grievance complaint after the Respondent agreed to settle this dispute, in part on the condition that the Complainant withdraw this grievance complaint. The Respondent filed an answer to the additional probable cause finding. The Respondent maintained that he made an honest attempt to settle his affairs before he moved out of state. The Respondent stated that he did not contact the Complainant to propose the settlement. Rather, the Complainant showed up unannounced in his office for purposes of discussing their dispute over the fee, and the fee dispute was settled. The Respondent released his claim to legal fees in the amount of $1,568.00 for $750.00. As a result, the Complainant agreed to withdraw this grievance complaint.
At the hearing before this reviewing committee, the Complainant testified that he has settled with the Respondent. The Complainant further testified that he is satisfied with the settlement.
This reviewing committee cannot conclude by clear and convincing evidence, under the circumstances of this case, that the Respondent violated either Rule 1.5 or Rule 8.4(d) of the Rules of Professional Conduct. The Respondent settled his fee dispute with the Complainant after the Complainant approached him about resolving their dispute. The Respondent did not condition settlement of the fee dispute upon the Complainant's withdrawal of this grievance complaint. A decision by a Complainant to withdraw a complaint after its filing does not have the effect of terminating the complaint. The attempt to bring this grievance complaint to closure upon settlement of the parties before the Respondent moved out of state did not, given the circumstances of this case, rise to the level of an ethical violation. Accordingly, this reviewing committee recommends that the Statewide Grievance Committee dismiss this complaint.
Attorney Salvatore C. DePiano
Attorney Alfred R. Belinkie
Mr. Thomas J. McKiernan
June 5, 1998
Jack L. Rosenblit Attorney David Askinas
109 Hyde Road U.S.I.S.L.
West Hartford, CT 06117 14497 No. Dale Mabry
Tampa, FL 33618
Re: Grievance Complaint #96-0629
Rosenblit v. Askinas
Dear Complainant and Respondent:
The Statewide Grievance Committee has carefully studied the record of the above-referenced grievance complaint, including the proposed decision of the reviewing committee, which conducted a hearing in this matter on August 13, 1997. Based upon its review of the record, the Statewide Grievance Committee, at a meeting held on May 21, 1998, has decided not to adopt the proposed decision of the reviewing committee. The Committee concluded that the preparation by the Respondent of an agreement to be executed by the Complainant in which the Complainant agreed to withdraw his grievance complaint against the Respondent constituted a violation of Rule 8.4(d) of the Rules of Professional Conduct. Accordingly, the Respondent is hereby REPRIMANDED by the Statewide Grievance Committee.
Daniel B. Horwitch
cc: Attorney John J. Quinn