STATEWIDE GRIEVANCE COMMITTEE
Maggie Dykes, Complainant vs. Nicholas Nesi, Respondent
Grievance Complaint #98-0895
Pursuant to Practice Book §2-35, the undersigned, duly-appointed reviewing committee of the Statewide Grievance Committee, conducted a hearing at the Superior Court, 1 Court Street, Middletown, Connecticut on December 9, 1999. The hearing addressed the record of the complaint filed on April 14, 1999, and the probable cause determination filed by the New Haven Judicial District, Geographical Areas 7 & 8 Grievance Panel on July 8, 1999, finding that there existed probable cause that the Respondent violated Rule 1.4 of the Rules of Professional Conduct.
Notice of the hearing was mailed to the Complainant and to the Respondent on September 13, 1999. A hearing previously scheduled for October 14, 1999 was continued at the Respondents request. Both the Complainant and the Respondent appeared at the hearing before this reviewing committee on December 9, 1999. The Respondent was represented at the hearing by Attorney Noah Eisenhandler. An exhibit was received into evidence.
This reviewing committee finds the following facts by clear and convincing evidence:
In or about March of 1996, the Respondent agreed to represent the Complainant and her husband in a collection action against the Right Property Management Co., Inc. The Respondent arranged to have another attorney file the lawsuit because the Respondents law partner, as a matter of practice, did not sue realtors. Thereafter, the Respondent filed an appearance in lieu of the other attorney and became counsel of record in the case. The lawsuit was filed in court on or about March 13, 1997. The Respondent filed his in lieu of appearance on or about May 2, 1997.
On or about June 13, 1997, the court entered a default for failure to appear against the Right Property Management Co., Inc. On or about October 16, 1997, the Respondent filed a certificate of closed pleadings requesting a hearing in damages. The case was set down for a hearing in damages to be heard on November 4, 1997. The Respondent did not appear at the hearing in damages. A dismissal was entered by the court on November 4, 1997.
On or about December 17, 1997, the Respondent filed a motion to reopen. As of June 1, 1999, the Respondent maintained that the case had not been reopened.
In and between 1996 and 1999, the Complainant made frequent and reasonable requests for information of the Respondent regarding the case. The Respondent did not promptly comply with the Complainants reasonable requests for information regarding the case. The Respondent did not inform the Complainant of the date of the hearing in damages. The Respondent also did not inform the Complainant that the case had been dismissed on November 4, 1997. In or about January of 1999, the Complainant telephoned the court and was told that the case had been dismissed in November of 1997 because her attorney had not appeared when he was supposed to. Thereafter, the Complainant telephoned the Respondents firm with this information. Not receiving a satisfactory explanation, the Complainant requested her file.
This reviewing committee finds the following violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct by clear and convincing evidence:
The Respondent violated Rule 1.4 of the Rules of Professional Conduct by failing to keep the Complainant reasonably informed about the status of her action against the Right Property Management Co., Inc. and by not promptly complying with her reasonable requests for information. The Respondent failed to explain the matter to the extent reasonably necessary to permit the Complainant to make informed decisions regarding the representation. The Respondent had a duty to keep the Complainant fully informed about the progress or lack of progress of her case. Clearly, the Respondent did not do so. The Complainant had to learn from the court that her case had been dismissed approximately fourteen months earlier. Accordingly, this reviewing committee reprimands the Respondent for violating Rule 1.4 of the Rules of Professional Conduct.
Attorney Kerry A. Tarpey
Attorney Carl Fortuna, Jr.
Mr. Terrence K. Nichols