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Legal Malpractice & Attorney Discipline Law

Legal Malpractice & Attorney Discipline Law Supreme Court Opinion

   by Penn, Michele

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=3586

SC20084 - Cimmino v. Marcoccia ("On December 9, 2014, after conducting an en banc hearing on an order to show cause, the defendant in error, the Appellate Court, issued an order suspending the plaintiff in error, Josephine Smalls Miller, "from practice before [the Appellate Court] for a period of six months" and barring her from representing "any client before [the Appellate Court] until she files a motion for reinstatement and that motion has been granted" (2014 order). On October 4, 2017, the Chief Disciplinary Counsel sent a letter to the Chief Clerk of the Supreme and Appellate Courts indicating that Miller had been retained to represent a client in an appeal before the Appellate Court. In response, on February 15, 2018, the Appellate Court issued an additional order, stating that it "hereby clarifies that [the 2014 order] precludes . . . Miller from providing legal services of any kind in connection with any . . . Appellate Court matter until she files a motion for reinstatement and that motion has been granted" (2018 order). Miller then filed the present writ of error, claiming that the 2018 order was an unconstitutional ex post facto law in violation of the United States constitution because it retroactively prohibited her from engaging in certain conduct. In addition, Miller claimed that the 2014 order was the result of the Appellate Court's selective enforcement of the rules of attorney discipline, and argued that both orders were the result of the court's disparate and retaliatory treatment of minority attorneys who pursue racial discrimination claims on behalf of their clients. After oral argument before this court, we, sua sponte, ordered the parties to submit supplemental briefs on the following issue: "Whether the Appellate Court's order of February 15, 2018, clarifying its order of December 9, 2014, violated [Miller's] constitutional right to due process?" We conclude that the 2018 order did not violate the ex post facto clause and that Miller's claims of selective enforcement and discriminatory and retaliatory treatment are not reviewable by this court. We further conclude that the 2018 order did not violate Miller's constitutional due process rights because, as applied, that order did not prohibit her from engaging in conduct that was not also prohibited by the 2014 order. Accordingly, we dismiss the writ of error.")


Legal Malpractice Appellate Court Opinion

   by Booth, George

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=3493

AC41586 - Kaminski v. Poirot (Legal malpractice; "The self-represented plaintiff, John S. Kaminski, appeals from the summary judgment rendered by the trial court in favor of the defendant, Attorney David Poirot. On appeal, the plaintiff claims that the court erroneously concluded that his legal malpractice action against the defendant was time barred pursuant to General Statutes § 52-577, the statute of limitations applicable to tort actions. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.")


Attorney Discipline Law Appellate Court Opinion

   by Mazur, Catherine

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=3472

AC40887 - Cohen v. Statewide Grievance Committee ("The plaintiff, Debra Cohen, an attorney, appeals from the judgment of the trial court dismissing her appeal from the reprimand imposed by the defendant, the Statewide Grievance Committee, for her violation of rules 3.3 (a) (1) and 8.4 (3) of the Rules of Professional Conduct. On appeal, the plaintiff claims that (1) disciplinary counsel violated her due process rights by refusing to conduct an investigation into the allegations of misconduct against her, (2) disciplinary counsel violated her due process rights by failing to produce any witnesses other than the plaintiff at her hearing before the reviewing committee, (3) the court improperly inferred the existence of an attorney-client relationship between the plaintiff and the Probate Court, (4) the court improperly expanded the application of rule 3.3 to an attorney functioning in a fiduciary role, and (5) the court improperly upheld the reviewing committee's determination that an entry in the amended final account filed by the plaintiff on June 24, 2013, constituted a knowingly false statement to the Probate Court in violation of rule 3.3 (a) (1) and was dishonest in violation of rule 8.4 (3). We affirm the judgment of the trial court.")


Attorney Discipline Appellate Court Opinion

   by Mazur, Catherine

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=3424

AC40274 - Marino v. Statewide Grievance Committee ("The plaintiff, Debra B. Marino, an attorney, appeals from the judgment of the trial court dismissing her appeal from the sanctions imposed by the reviewing committee of the defendant, the Statewide Grievance Committee, for violating rule 4.4 (a) of the Rules of Professional Conduct. The plaintiff claims that the court improperly upheld the defendant's conclusion that the motion for a capias that she filed while representing a client in a family proceeding had no substantial purpose other than to embarrass or burden the complainant, Melissa Mathison. We agree with the plaintiff and reverse the judgment of the trial court.")


Legal Malpractice Appellate Court Opinions

   by Mazur, Catherine

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=3393

AC40021 - Deroy v. Reck ("In this legal malpractice action, the self-represented plaintiff, Aleta Deroy, appeals from the summary judgment rendered by the trial court in favor of the defendant attorneys, Stephen M. Reck, Raymond Trebisacci, and Lewis A. Button III. On appeal, the plaintiff claims, inter alia, that the court improperly concluded that expert testimony was necessary to establish the standard of proper professional skill or care, and that the failure of the plaintiff to disclose such an expert required the court to render summary judgment in favor of the defendants. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.")

AC40447 - Manzo-Ill v. Schoonmaker ("The plaintiff, Ellen M. Manzo-Ill, appeals from the judgment of the trial court rendered in favor of the defendant Schoonmaker, George & Blomberg, P.C., after a trial before the court. The court concluded that the plaintiff's claims of legal malpractice and fraudulent misrepresentation were barred by the three year statute of limitations set forth in General Statutes § 52-577. On appeal, the plaintiff claims that the court (1) misapplied our Supreme Court's holding in DeLeo v. Nusbaum, 263 Conn. 588, 821 A.2d 744 (2003), regarding the continuous representation doctrine and the tolling of the statute of limitations and (2) abused its discretion in denying her motion to reargue. We disagree and, accordingly, affirm the judgment of the trial court.")


Legal Malpractice Appellate Court Opinion

   by Mazur, Catherine

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=3381

AC40510 - Cruz v. Schoenhorn (Legal malpractice; "The plaintiff, Eloy Cruz, appeals from the summary judgments rendered by the trial court in favor of the defendants, Jon L. Schoenhorn and Arnaldo J. Sierra, respectively. On appeal, the plaintiff asserts that the trial court erroneously concluded that his legal malpractice claims against the defendants were time barred pursuant to General Statutes § 52-577, the statute of limitations applicable to tort actions, because genuine issues of material fact exist as to whether the continuous representation doctrine applies so as to toll § 52-577. We disagree and, accordingly, affirm the summary judgments of the trial court.")


Attorney Discipline Law Appellate Court Opinion

   by Mazur, Catherine

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=3373

AC41741 - Maurice v. Chester Housing Associates Ltd. Partnership ("The plaintiff in error, Douglas Williams, brings this writ of error after the trial court sanctioned him for bad faith litigation misconduct and determined that, following further proceedings, attorney's fees shall be awarded to the defendant in error, De Ann Maurice. In his writ, he claims that (1) the trial court acted outside of the scope of its authority and (2) even if the court had such authority, it abused its discretion by determining that an award of attorney's fees was an appropriate sanction against him for out-of-court conduct when he was not a party to the underlying matter. We dismiss the writ of error.")


Legal Malpractice Appellate Court Opinion

   by Mazur, Catherine

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=3337

AC40465 - Costello v. Goldstein & Peck, P.C. ("The plaintiffs, James T. Costello and Dorothy Smulley Costello, appeal from the judgment of the trial court, rendered subsequent to its granting of the motion to strike the second amended complaint filed by the defendants, Goldstein & Peck, P.C. (law firm), William J. Kupinse, Jr., and Andrew M. McPherson. The plaintiffs claim that the court (1) improperly granted the defendants' motion to strike, (2) failed to consider alternatives to striking the complaint, and (3) improperly denied the plaintiffs' claim for costs pursuant to General Statutes § 52-243. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.")


Legal Malpractice Law Appellate Court Opinion

   by Mazur, Catherine

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=3318

AC40432 - Dubinsky v. Reich ("The plaintiff, David Dubinsky, appeals from the judgment of the trial court granting the motion to dismiss filed by the defendants, Veronica Reich and Bai, Pollack, Blueweiss & Mulcahey, P.C. On appeal, the plaintiff claims that the court improperly concluded that the defendants were entitled to absolute immunity. We disagree and, accordingly, affirm the judgment of the trial court.")


Legal Malpractice Law Appellate Court Opinion

   by Roy, Christopher

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=3264

AC40466 - Bozelko v. D'Amato ("In this legal malpractice action, the plaintiff, Chandra Bozelko, appeals from the summary judgment rendered by the trial court in favor of the defendants, Tina Sypek D'Amato and the Law Offices of Tina Sypek D'Amato. The trial court granted the defendants' motion for summary judgment on the ground that the plaintiff had failed to disclose an expert witness in support of her malpractice claim. The plaintiff challenges the summary judgment on the grounds that expert testimony was unnecessary to prove her claim of legal malpractice because her allegations against D'Amato fit the gross negligence exception to the expert testimony requirement for legal malpractice claims and expert testimony is not required when a legal malpractice case is tried to the court rather than to a jury. Because the plaintiff failed to disclose an expert witness who would testify that her alleged injury was caused by D'Amato's alleged grossly negligent representation of her, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.")


Attorney Discipline Law Appellate Court Opinion

   by Mazur, Catherine

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=3251

AC39709 - Cannatelli v. Statewide Grievance Committee ("The self-represented plaintiff, Frank P. Cannatelli, appeals from the judgment of the Superior Court dismissing his appeal from a decision of the defendant, Statewide Grievance Committee, and from the court's subsequent denial of his motion to reargue the judgment of dismissal. On appeal, the plaintiff claims that the court improperly determined that it lacked subject matter jurisdiction over his appeal for lack of an appealable final judgment. We affirm the judgment of the Superior Court.")


Legal Malpractice Appellate Court Opinion

   by Mazur, Catherine

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=3186

AC40203 - Dubinsky v. Black ("The plaintiff, David Dubinsky, appeals from the summary judgment rendered in favor of the defendant, Kevin M. Black, in this legal malpractice action predicated on the defendant's alleged failure to advise the plaintiff that his acceptance of a plea offer in a criminal proceeding would preclude him from subsequently pursuing an action for malicious prosecution. In rendering summary judgment, the court concluded, as a matter of law, that the plaintiff could not prevail on such an action, as probable cause existed to charge him with the crime of risk of injury to a child in violation of General Statutes § 53-21. The plaintiff now challenges the propriety of that determination. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.")


Legal Malpractice Appellate Court Opinion

   by Mazur, Catherine

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=3120

AC40362 - Taylor v. Wallace ("The plaintiff, David Taylor, appeals from the judgment of the trial court dismissing his one count complaint sounding in legal malpractice against the defendant, Anthony Wallace. On appeal, the plaintiff claims that the trial court erred in (1) dismissing the complaint; (2) concluding that the plaintiff lacked standing to assert his claim of fraud; and (3) denying the plaintiff's motion for reargument. The defendant claims that the action was not ripe because the underlying conviction had not been vacated. We affirm the judgment.")


Attorney Discipline Supreme Court Opinion

   by Mazur, Catherine

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=3106

SC20059 - D'Attilo v. Statewide Grievance Committee ("The plaintiffs, Daniel Jacob D'Attilo, Cathy M. D'Attilo, and Domenic D'Attilo, appeal from the judgment of the trial court dismissing the present action, which was brought against the defendants, the Statewide Grievance Committee, the Fairfield Grievance Panel (Fairfield panel), and the Stamford-Norwalk Grievance Panel (Stamford panel), seeking a writ of mandamus and injunctive relief in challenging their handling of the plaintiffs' grievance complaints against seven attorneys. On appeal, the plaintiffs claim that they were statutorily and classically aggrieved by certain decisions of those local panels dismissing their grievance complaints against five of those attorneys, and by certain other actions of the Statewide Grievance Committee with respect to the proceedings against the other two. We disagree and, accordingly, affirm the judgment of the trial court dismissing the present action for lack of standing.")


Declaratory Judgment Law Supreme Court Opinion

   by Roy, Christopher

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=3101

SC19923 - Mendillo v. Tinley, Renehan & Dost, LLP ("In this appeal, we consider whether the Superior Court has subject matter jurisdiction over a declaratory judgment action brought as a collateral attack on a judgment of the Appellate Court concerning the plaintiff, George E. Mendillo. The plaintiff appeals from the judgment of the trial court dismissing his declaratory judgment action against the defendants, the law firm of Tinley, Renehan & Dost, LLP (law firm), and the Connecticut Appellate Court. On appeal, the plaintiff, who is an attorney, claims that the trial court improperly concluded that his challenge to the Appellate Court’s interpretation of rule 4.2 of the Rules of Professional Conduct in Sowell v. DiCara, 161 Conn. App. 102, 127 A.3d 356, cert. denied, 320 Conn. 909, 128 A.3d 953 (2015), was barred by the doctrine of sovereign immunity. We, however, do not reach the sovereign immunity issues raised by the plaintiff because we agree with the defendants’ alternative jurisdictional argument, and conclude that the plaintiff’s collateral attack on Sowell in this declaratory judgment action is nonjusticiable under Valvo v. Freedom of Information Commission, 294 Conn. 534, 985 A.2d 1052 (2010). Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the trial court")


Legal Malpractice Appellate Court Opinion

   by Mazur, Catherine

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=3089

AC39507 - Corneroli v. Kutz ("The plaintiff in this legal malpractice action, Louis D. Corneroli, appeals from the summary judgment rendered by the trial court in favor of the defendants, Ronald W. Kutz and Kutz & Prokop, LLP. On appeal, the plaintiff claims that the court improperly (1) rendered summary judgment in favor of the defendants on the basis of its conclusion that there was insufficient expert testimony on the issue of causation, and (2) considered certain documents filed by the defendants. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.")


Legal Malpractice Appellate Court Opinion

   by Mazur, Catherine

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=3035

AC38128 - Kuehl v. Koskoff ("Except in obvious situations, expert testimony generally is required to establish the element of causation in a legal malpractice case. See Bozelko v. Papastavros, 323 Conn. 275, 284–85, 147 A.3d 1023 (2016). 'Because a determination of what result should have occurred if the attorney had not been negligent usually is beyond the field of ordinary knowledge and experience possessed by a juror, expert testimony generally will be necessary to provide the essential nexus between the attorney's [alleged] error and the plaintiff's damages.' Id., 285.

"In this legal malpractice action, the defendants, Rosalind J. Koskoff and the law firm of Koskoff, Koskoff & Bieder, P.C., appeal from the judgment of the trial court rendered, after a jury trial, in favor of the plaintiff, Sylvia N. Kuehl. To summarize, this protracted litigation concerns the plaintiff's contention that the defendants breached the duty of care they owed her during their representation of her in an underlying personal injury action involving her late husband, Guenther Kuehl (decedent), when the defendants failed to file a claim for survivor's benefits under our Workers' Compensation Act (act), General Statutes § 31-275 et seq., within a year of his death. At trial, the defendants claimed that the plaintiff failed to prove the proximate cause element of a negligence cause of action because she failed to present expert testimony that, more likely than not, she would have been awarded survivor's benefits under the act if the defendants had submitted her claim. On appeal, the defendants claim that the trial court improperly denied their motion for a directed verdict, motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict, and motion to set aside the verdict. We reverse the judgment of the trial court.")


Attorney Discipline Law Supreme Court Opinion

   by Roy, Christopher

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=2980

SC19892 - Disciplinary Counsel v. Hickey ("After the defendant, Thomas J. Hickey, voluntarily resigned from the bar of this state, he filed an application for reinstatement, and the plaintiffs, Disciplinary Counsel, and the Statewide Grievance Committee (committee), filed motions to dismiss the defendant’s application for reinstatement. The issue that we must resolve in this appeal is whether the trial court properly granted the plaintiffs’ motions to dismiss the defendant’s application for reinstatement to the bar on the ground that the defendant had resigned from the bar and waived his right to apply for reinstatement. The defendant contends that the trial court incorrectly determined that the portion of Practice Book § 2-53 (b) providing that ‘[n]o attorney who has resigned from the bar and waived the privilege of applying for readmission or reinstatement to the bar at any future time hall be eligible to apply for readmission or reinstatement to the bar,’ which became effective January 1, 2014, applied retroactively to his application for reinstatement filed in 2012. The defendant also claims that, under Practice Book (2012) § 2-53 (a), which, according to him, is the rule of practice that the trial court should have applied to his application, the court had no authority to entertain the plaintiffs’ motions to dismiss on the ground that he was ineligible to apply for reinstatement but, rather, was required to forward his application to a standing committee on recommendations for admission to the bar (standing committee) for a determination of that issue.

We conclude that the trial court correctly determined that the defendant was ineligible to apply for reinstatement to the bar as the result of his voluntary resignation and waiver of his right to apply for reinstatement, regardless of whether Practice Book § 2-53 (b) is retroactive. We further conclude that the trial court was not required to forward the defendant’s application to a standing committee and properly granted the plaintiffs’ motions to dismiss. We therefore affirm the judgment of the trial court.")


Attorney Misconduct Appellate Court Opinion

   by Mazur, Catherine

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=761

AC39856 - Picard v. Guilford House, LLC ("This matter comes before this court on a writ of error brought by the plaintiff in error, Linda Lehmann, former attorney for the plaintiff in the underlying action, Angela Picard. The plaintiff in error challenges the order of the trial court, Miller, J. imposing financial sanctions upon her for misconduct while conducting an out-of-state deposition in the underlying action. We conclude that the court did not abuse its discretion in imposing the challenged sanctions. Accordingly, we dismiss the writ of error.")


Attorney Discipline Supreme Court Opinion

   by Mazur, Catherine

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=642

SC19796- Chief Disciplinary Counsel v. Rozbicki ("The defendant, Zbigniew S. Rozbicki, an Attorney, appeals from the judgment of the trial court, rendered following presentment by the plaintiff, Chief Disciplinary Counsel, concluding that he had violated rules 3.1, 8.2 (a), and 8.4 (4) of the Rules of Professional Conduct and suspending him from the practice of law for a period of four years. In challenging the trial court's judgment, the defendant raises a multitude of claims, including the following: (1) that the trial court violated his constitutional right to due process; (2) that the allegations in the presentment were barred under the doctrines of res judicata and collateral estoppel; (3) that the plaintiff failed to prove professional misconduct by clear and convincing evidence; and (4) that the trial court abused its discretion in imposing a four year suspension without considering certain factors set forth in the American Bar Association's Standards for Imposing Lawyer Sanctions (standards). We disagree and, accordingly, affirm the judgment of the trial court.")


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