Friday, October 19, 2012
The New Jersey Supreme Court has reprimanded an attorney for misconduct in a personal injury matter.
The client consulted the attorney after his hand was crushed while changing a tire on his BMW. The attorney agreed to investigate the matter and brought in an associate to work the case. The firm retained an expert and concluded that there was no basis to proceed. The client was not advised.
Notwithstanding the decision not to proceed, the associate filed a civil case two years later against a jack manufacturer. The complaint named the wrong manufacturer and was eventually dismissed. The attorney largely professed ignorance of the situation.
When a bar complaint was filed by the client, the attorney was tardy in responding.
The Disciplinary Review Board expressed a number of concerns in their report. In particular, the associate was purportedly "on vacation" and did not testify. The DRB thought that the attorney's story of what had occured between him and his associate made little sense, as they were the sole lawyers in the firm's products liability practice.
As to sanction, the DRB would have imposed an admonition but for the attorney's "disrespectful arrogance." (Mike Frisch)