June 18, 2012
Sanction Proposed For Class Action Local Counsel
An Illinois Hearing Board found that an attorney engaged in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice in his conduct as local counsel to a Texas attorney in connection with a class action against Walmart.
The board rejected other ethics charges and recommends a reprimand:
In the present case, Respondent received a call from an out of
state attorney regarding a class action suit which was settling in Illinois.
Respondent discussed the suit with the attorney, reviewed the proposed
objections, agreed to act as local counsel and filed the objections. Respondent,
while acting in good faith, did not independently research the class action
suit, contact class counsel to discuss the terms of settlement or specifically,
discuss the process that class counsel used to determine the appropriate amount
Further, while not required, Respondent chose not to attend the
fairness hearing, where he would have had the opportunity to explain his position to Judge Vandewiele. However, Respondent's misconduct was limited to one case, he did not engage in any intentionally deceptive misconduct, he has not been previously disciplined and we do not believe he poses a threat to his future clients. We conclude that a reprimand will satisfy the purposes of the disciplinary process in that it will protect the public and remind attorneys of their obligation to perform their legal services diligently.
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