May 2, 2011
Welcome To the Hotel California - No Cats Allowed
From the May 2011 California Bar Journal:
[An attorney] was disbarred Sept. 2, 2010, and was ordered to comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court.
[The attorney] committed two acts of misconduct while defending a hotel that was sued for barring a tenant’s companion animal – a 16-year-old cat – from living with him. The tenant accused the hotel of housing discrimination, intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress and unfair business practices.
[The attorney] did not respond to discovery requests or various motions, was sanctioned twice and a default judgment was entered against the hotel for $151,200 plus attorney’s fees and costs of $26,987. Although he did not notify his client about the sanctions or the outcome of the case, he asked another lawyer for help in setting aside the default judgment. The client only learned about the court order when the sheriff arrived with a notice of levy against the hotel. The hotel was forced into bankruptcy.
Judge Lucy Armendariz found that [the attorney] failed to perform legal services competently or keep his client informed of significant developments in his case. Although he repaid $11,000, Armendariz noted that [he] has been disciplined three times previously. “The present matter reflects a continuing inability to fully appreciate the duties he owes to his clients,” the judge wrote. “Moreover, the lack of compelling mitigating circumstances involved in the present matter and ([his]) stated indifference . . . give the court little justification to recommend a level of discipline short of disbarment.”
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