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Legal Malpractice & Attorney Discipline Law

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.")


Legal Malpractice Appellate Court Opinion

   by Townsend, Karen

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=3755

AC41927 - Costello & McCormack, P.C. v. Manero (Summary judgment in favor of the cross claim defendants; claim of breach of fiduciary obligations; whether cross claim was operative complaint; "On appeal, Fetscher claims that the court improperly (1) construed his cross claim as one sounding in legal malpractice and (2) concluded that no genuine issue of material fact existed with respect to that claim. We disagree and, accordingly, affirm the judgment of the trial court.")


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.")