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Legal Malpractice & Attorney Discipline Law

Legal Malpractice Law Appellate Court Opinion

   by Agati, Taryn

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=5808

AC45261 - McDonnell v. Roberts ("In this action, the plaintiff, Patricia A. McDonnell, appeals from the trial court's denial of her motion to open and set aside the judgment of nonsuit rendered in favor of the defendants, Norman A. Roberts II, the Law Offices of Norman A. Roberts, LLC, and GraberRoberts, LLC. The plaintiff claims that the court abused its discretion in denying her motion to open and set aside the judgment of nonsuit on the grounds that the court erred in finding that she failed to show that a good cause of action existed at the time of the judgment of nonsuit and that she was prevented by mistake, accident or other reasonable cause from prosecuting the action. We affirm the judgment of the court.")


Legal Malpractice Law Appellate Court Opinion

   by Oumano, Emily

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=5793

AC45952 - Kuselias v. Zingaro & Cretella, LLC (“The plaintiff, Kristen Kuselias, brought the civil action underlying this appeal, in which she raised claims of legal malpractice, breach of contract, and negligent misrepresentation against the defendants, the law firm of Zingaro & Cretella, LLC, and Attorney Eugene J. Zingaro. The plaintiff appeals from (1) the judgment of the trial court rendered in favor of the defendants after it granted their motion for summary judgment with respect to all three counts of her complaint and (2) the denial of her subsequent motion to reargue and reconsider. The plaintiff claims that the court erred by (1) granting the defendants’ motion for summary judgment with respect to her claims of legal malpractice and negligent misrepresentation, despite her assertion that these claims could properly be brought pursuant to General Statutes § 52-592, the accidental failure of suit statute, and (2) denying her motion to reargue and reconsider its ruling on the motion for summary judgment. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.”)


Attorney Discipline Law Appellate Court Opinion

   by Agati, Taryn

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=5756

AC45424 - Ambrose v. Ambrose ("The primary issue in this writ of error challenging the disbarment of an attorney is whether her due process rights were violated by the procedure used by the first defendant in error, Hon. Thomas G. Moukawsher. The plaintiff in error, Nickola J. Cunha, who is the former attorney for a party in the underlying dissolution action, challenges in this writ of error the order of Judge Moukawsher disbarring her from the practice of law. Cunha claims that Judge Moukawsher (1) violated her constitutional right to due process by failing to give her adequate notice of a disciplinary hearing and by deciding that misconduct had occurred without an independent hearing on the issue, (2) violated her first amendment right to free speech by disbarring her for the arguments she made in connection with a motion to disqualify, (3) erred in finding that she had violated the Rules of Professional Conduct because those findings were not factually supported by clear and convincing evidence and (4) imposed an excessive penalty by disbarring her from the practice of law. We conclude that no constitutional violation occurred, the findings of violations of Rules of Professional Conduct were supported by clear and convincing evidence and there was no abuse of discretion in ordering Cunha disbarred. Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.")


Attorney Discipline Law Appellate Court Opinion

   by Townsend, Karen

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=5557

AC44763 - Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel v. Wynne (“On appeal, the plaintiff argues that the court improperly (1) approved the applications to become the defendant’s supervising attorneys in light of their proposal to supervise the defendant remotely and (2) held that, pursuant to Practice Book § 2-47B, a court may expressly permit, by written order, a deactivated attorney who is employed by a supervising attorney in the role of paralegal or legal assistant to communicate with clients and third parties regarding matters that are the subject of representation by the supervising attorney or his or her firm, provided that the communication does not amount to engaging in the practice of law. During the pendency of this appeal, however, the trial court granted a motion to terminate the supervising attorney relationships at issue. As such, we ordered the parties to file supplemental briefs addressing whether this appeal should be dismissed as moot. In their briefs, the parties argue that the appeal is not moot under the ‘capable of repetition, yet evading review’ exception to the mootness doctrine. We are not persuaded that this exception applies and, therefore, dismiss this appeal for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.”)


Attorney Discipline Law Appellate Court Opinion

   by Agati, Taryn

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=5548

AC46194 - Lafferty v. Jones ("This writ of error was commenced by the plaintiff in error, Norman A. Pattis—a Connecticut attorney and counsel of record for the defendants, Alex Emric Jones and Free Speech Systems, LLC, in the underlying consolidated tort actions arising out of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. The plaintiff in error challenges the order of the second defendant in error, Honorable Barbara N. Bellis, suspending him from the practice of law for a period of six months for violating numerous provisions of the Rules of Professional Conduct.

In response to the writ of error, the first defendant in error, the Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel, filed a motion to dismiss on the ground of misjoinder. Judge Bellis also filed a motion to dismiss the writ of error for lack of proper service of process. By separate orders dated March 1, 2023, we denied the motion to dismiss filed by the Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel and granted Judge Bellis' motion to dismiss, indicating in both orders that an opinion would follow. This opinion provides our reasons for those orders.

.....

The motion to dismiss filed by disciplinary counsel is denied; the motion to dismiss filed by Judge Bellis is granted and the writ of error as it pertains to Judge Bellis is dismissed.")


Attorney Discipline Law Appellate Court Opinion

   by Booth, George

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=5161

AC44826 - Disciplinary Counsel v. Spadoni (Attorney misconduct; application for reinstatement to bar; "The defendant, Charles B. Spadoni, an attorney suspended from the practice of law, appeals from the judgment of the Superior Court denying his application for reinstatement to the bar of this state. On appeal, the defendant claims that the three judge panel of the Superior Court considering the defendant's application for reinstatement to the bar improperly accepted the report and recommendation of the Standing Committee on Recommendations for Admission to the Bar for New Haven County (committee) because (1) the committee exceeded the scope of its investigative authority by inquiring as to the defendant's presuspension misconduct, and (2) the committee improperly found that the defendant failed to accept his federal conviction for obstruction of justice with sincerity and honesty. We disagree with the defendant and, therefore, affirm the judgment of the court.")


Legal Malpractice Law Appellate Court Opinion

   by Roy, Christopher

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=5102

AC44320 - Gianetti v. Neigher (This appeal arises out of a legal malpractice action brought by the plaintiff, Charles D. Gianetti, against the defendant, Alan Neigher, an attorney who represented the plaintiff in a prior civil action (prior action) against Norwalk Hospital (hospital). The plaintiff appeals from the summary judgment rendered by the trial court in favor of the defendant. On appeal, the plaintiff claims that the court improperly granted the defendant’s motion to preclude the testimony of the plaintiff’s expert witness, Attorney Bruce H. Stanger, because (1) the sanction of precluding the testimony was not proportional to the plaintiff’s noncompliance with the expert disclosure requirements set forth in Practice Book § 13-4, which the plaintiff contends could have been adequately remedied by a less severe sanction, and (2) in so sanctioning the plaintiff, the court improperly determined that the expert’s opinion was not supported by a sufficient factual basis. The plaintiff additionally claims that the court improperly rendered summary judgment because (1) the court failed to consider the testimony of his expert witness, and (2) even if the court properly precluded the testimony of his expert witness, a genuine issue of material fact nonetheless existed as to the legal malpractice elements of causation and damages. We affirm the judgment of the court.)


Legal Malpractice & Attorney Discipline Law Appellate Court Opinion

   by Agati, Taryn

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=5002

AC44830 - Pringle v. Pattis ("The self-represented plaintiff, Barry Pringle, appeals from the judgment of the trial court granting the motion to dismiss filed by the defendants, Norman Pattis, Frederick M. O'Brien and Daniel M. Erwin. On appeal, the plaintiff claims that the court improperly dismissed his complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction on the basis of the exoneration rule, which generally provides that a legal malpractice claim is not ripe for adjudication unless the plaintiff can demonstrate that the relevant underlying conviction has been invalidated. We reverse in part the judgment of the trial court.")


Legal Malpractice & Attorney Discipline Law Appellate Court Opinion

   by Agati, Taryn

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=4891

AC44388 - Gottesman v. Kratter ("These two appeals arise from actions brought by the plaintiff, Amy B. Gottesman, concerning an underlying marital dissolution action. In Docket No. AC 44297, the plaintiff appeals from the judgment of the trial court granting (1) the motion for summary judgment filed by the defendant, Mark M. Kratter, on the plaintiff's claim for legal malpractice against Kratter and (2) the motion to strike count two of the revised complaint alleging breach of contract. Specifically, she claims that the court erred in granting summary judgment for failure to disclose an expert witness when she had not been precluded from disclosing an expert and because the time in which she was required to disclose had not yet expired. With respect to the motion to strike, she claims that the court erred in concluding that the allegations in the revised complaint failed to allege that the defendant breached an agreement to reach a specified result. In Docket No. AC 44388, the plaintiff appeals from the judgment of the trial court granting the motion for summary judgment filed by the defendant law firms, the Law Offices of Mark M. Kratter, LLC, and Kratter & Gustafson, LLC, as to counts one and thirteen of the third revised complaint, which alleged claims against the law firms for legal malpractice and transferee liability, respectively. Specifically, she claims that the court improperly rendered summary judgment because the law firms failed to demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact and because the time in which she had to disclose an expert witness in support of her claim of legal malpractice against the law firms had not yet expired. Although the appeals have not been consolidated, we write one opinion for purposes of judicial economy in which we assess the claims raised in both appeals. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.")


Legal Malpractice & Attorney Discipline Law Appellate Court Opinions

   by Agati, Taryn

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=4882

AC43670 - Carter v. Bowler ("The self-represented plaintiff, Anthony C. Carter, appeals from the judgment of the trial court granting the motion to dismiss filed by the defendant, Michael P. Bowler. On appeal, the plaintiff claims that the court improperly dismissed his complaint on the ground of absolute immunity. We disagree and, accordingly, affirm the judgment of the trial court.")

AC44494 - Green v. Paz ("The self-represented plaintiff, Courtney Green, appeals from the judgment of the trial court rendered in favor of the defendants, Brittany B. Paz, Norman Pattis, and Pattis Law Firm. The plaintiff claims on appeal that the trial court erred in dismissing his legal malpractice action for lack of subject matter jurisdiction on the basis of the exoneration rule, i.e., that a legal malpractice claim is not ripe for adjudication unless the plaintiff can demonstrate that the relevant underlying conviction has been invalidated. The defendants claim that the plaintiff's action is not ripe for judicial review because his underlying conviction has not been invalidated. For the reasons that follow, we affirm the trial court's judgment.")


Attorney Discipline Law Appellate Court Opinion

   by Agati, Taryn

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=4561

AC43733 - Chief Disciplinary Counsel v. Elder ("The defendant attorney, Joseph Elder, appeals from the judgment of the trial court reprimanding him for violations of the rules of practice and the Rules of Professional Conduct. Specifically, the defendant claims that the court erred in not dismissing the presentment complaint against him because the reviewing committee (1) did not abide by the time frames set forth in General Statutes § 51-90g (c) and Practice Book § 2-35 (i), and (2) improperly considered allegations of misconduct that were filed by the plaintiff, the Chief Disciplinary Counsel, after the reviewing committee had made a probable cause determination. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.")


Legal Malpractice Law Appellate Court Opinion

   by Agati, Taryn

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=4544

AC43641 - Cooke v. Williams ("In this appeal, we address the applicability of Taylor v. Wallace, 184 Conn. App. 43, 194 A.3d 343 (2018), to an action alleging fraudulent and improper fee practices brought by a criminally convicted plaintiff against his former habeas attorney. The self-represented plaintiff, Ian T. Cooke, appeals from the judgment of the trial court granting the motion to dismiss filed by the defendants, John R. Williams and John R. Williams and Associates, LLC, for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. On appeal, the plaintiff argues that the court erred by dismissing as unripe (1) his legal malpractice claim by misapplying the justiciability bar articulated in Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 114 S. Ct. 2364, 129 L. Ed. 2d 383 (1994), and (2) his fraud claim pursuant to Heck for the same reasons. We agree with the plaintiff in part and accordingly reverse in part the judgment of the trial court.")


Attorney Discipline Supreme Court Slip Opinion

   by Booth, George

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=4509

SC20356 - Cohen v. Statewide Grievance Committee (Attorney discipline; Rules of professional conduct; Whether rule prohibiting a lawyer from making "False statement" to tribunal only applies when lawyer is representing a client; whether plaintiff attorney made a knowingly false statement to probate court; "In this certified appeal, the plaintiff, Attorney Debra Cohen, appeals from the Appellate Court's judgment affirming the trial court's dismissal of her appeal from a reprimand the defendant, the Statewide Grievance Committee, imposed on her for violating rules 3.3 (a) (1) and 8.4 (3) of the Rules of Professional Conduct. On appeal, the plaintiff claims that (1) rule 3.3 (a) (1) does not apply when, as in the present case, she was at all relevant times an attorney admitted to practice in this state but was serving as a court-appointed fiduciary, (2) the defendant incorrectly concluded that she violated rule 3.3 (a) (1) by making a "false statement," and (3) the defendant incorrectly concluded that her conduct was dishonest in violation of rule 8.4 (3). We disagree and, accordingly, affirm the judgment of the Appellate Court.")


Legal Malpractice Law Appellate Court Opinions

   by Booth, George

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=4504

AC43385 - Dressler v. Riccio (Legal malpractice; breach of fiduciary duty; violation of Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act (CUTPA) (§ 42-110a et seq.); motion to strike; motion for summary judgment; "The plaintiff, Lawrence Dressler, appeals from the judgment of the trial court rendered in favor of the defendant, Eugene Riccio. On appeal, the plaintiff claims that the court improperly granted the defendant's (1) motion to strike count three of the plaintiff's amended complaint asserting a violation of the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act (CUTPA), General Statutes § 42-110a et seq., and (2) motion for summary judgment as to counts one and two of the plaintiff's amended complaint asserting legal malpractice and breach of fiduciary duty claims, respectively. We conclude that the court properly granted the defendant's motion to strike the plaintiff's CUTPA claim set forth in count three. As for the summary judgment rendered in the defendant's favor on counts one and two, the defendant argues, as an alternative ground for affirmance, that the court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over those claims because they are not ripe for review pursuant to Taylor v. Wallace, 184 Conn. App. 43, 47–52, 194 A.3d 343 (2018). We agree with the defendant's ripeness argument; however, rather than affirming the summary judgment on that alternative ground, we conclude that the judgment is improper in form because the court's lack of subject matter jurisdiction over counts one and two necessitates a judgment of dismissal with respect to those counts. Accordingly, we affirm in part and reverse in part the judgment of the trial court.")

AC42697 - Idlibi v. Ollennu (Abuse of process; legal malpractice; malicious prosecution; negligent infliction of emotional distress; intentional infliction of emotional distress; absolute immunity; litigation privilege; motion to dismiss; "The self-represented plaintiff, Ammar A. Idlibi, appeals from the judgment of the trial court dismissing his complaint against the defendant, Jeremiah Nii Amaa Ollennu, in its entirety. On appeal, Idlibi claims that the court erred by granting Ollennu's motion to dismiss. We reverse, in part, the judgment of the trial court.")


Attorney Discipline Law Appellate Court Opinion

   by Roy, Christopher

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=4359

AC44091 - Disciplinary Counsel v. Cannatelli ("In connection with the presentment filed by the petitioner, the Disciplinary Counsel, alleging misconduct by the respondent attorney, Frank Cannatelli, the respondent appeals from the judgment of the Superior Court suspending him from the practice of law for one year for numerous violations of the Rules of Professional Conduct and the rules of practice. We affirm the judgment of the Superior Court.")


Habeas Law Appellate Court Opinion

   by Booth, George

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=4108

AC41867 - Budziszewski v. Connecticut Judicial Branch ("The petitioner, Piotr Budziszewski, appeals from the judgment of the habeas court denying his petition for a writ of habeas corpus. The petitioner claims on appeal that the habeas court improperly rejected his claim that his right to effective assistance of counsel was violated by his criminal trial counsel’s failure to properly advise him of the immigration consequences of entering a guilty plea. We disagree and, accordingly, affirm the judgment of the habeas court.")


Attorney Discipline Law Appellate Court Opinion

   by Booth, George

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=4024

AC42700 - Peck v. Statewide Grievance Committee (Attorney discipline; whether trial court properly granted motion to dismiss appeal, for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, that challenged defendant's imposition of discipline against plaintiff attorney; "The plaintiff attorney, Michael Ruben Peck, appeals from the judgment of the trial court dismissing his appeal from the decision of the defendant, the Statewide Grievance Committee, on the ground that it lacked jurisdiction to consider the merits of the plaintiff's appeal challenging the sanction imposed against him by the defendant's reviewing committee. The defendant claims that the court committed error. We affirm the judgment of dismissal.")


Attorney Discipline Law Supreme Court Opinion

   by Booth, George

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=3963

SC20390 - Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel v. Miller ("In connection with the presentment filed by the plaintiff, the Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel, alleging misconduct by the defendant attorney, Josephine Smalls Miller, the defendant appeals from the judgment of the trial court suspending her from the practice of law for one year for violating numerous provisions in the Rules of Professional Conduct. Following the trial court’s judgment, the defendant filed a motion for articulation, which the trial court denied.The defendant filed a motion for review with the Appellate Court, which was granted, but that court denied any relief. On appeal, the defendant claims that (1) the trial court’s refusal to articulate and the Appellate Court’s refusal to order an articulation violate her due process rights, (2) the trial court incorrectly concluded that she engaged in misconduct sufficient to warrant any discipline, including suspension from the practice of law, and (3) the trial court incorrectly concluded that her claims of racial discrimination and retaliation were not properly raised in the presentment hearing.

The judgment is affirmed.")


Attorney Discipline Law Appellate Court Opinion

   by Penn, Michele

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=3832

AC41805 - Chief Disciplinary Counsel v. Burbank ("The present appeal arises out of a reciprocal disciplinary proceeding commenced pursuant to Practice Book § 2-39 by the petitioner, the Chief Disciplinary Counsel, against the respondent, Harold H. Burbank II, who had been suspended from the practice of law in Maine for one year due to his actions as a self-represented appellant before the Supreme Judicial Court of Maine. The respondent appeals from the judgment of the trial court, which found that commensurate discipline was appropriate with respect to the respondent's Connecticut law license and ordered the respondent suspended from the practice of law in Connecticut for one year.

The respondent, relying principally on the fact that he was not acting on behalf of a client but as a self-represented party at the time he engaged in the misconduct that led to his suspension in Maine, claims on appeal that the disciplinary action against his law license in Maine and, by extension, in Connecticut, (1) violated his right as a citizen to petition the government for a redress of grievances as protected by the first amendment of the United States constitution, and (2) violated his rights to due process and equal protection of law under the fourteenth amendment to the United States constitution. We disagree and, accordingly, affirm the judgment of the trial court.")



Legal Malpractice Appellate Court Opinion

   by Penn, Michele

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=3768

AC41606 - Dubinsky v. Riccio ("In 2016, the plaintiff, David Dubinsky, brought a civil action against the defendant attorney, Joyce Riccio, in which he set forth claims sounding in legal malpractice and breach of contract. The plaintiff appeals from the summary judgment rendered in favor of the defendant with respect to the legal malpractice count of his complaint. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.")