Monday, March 13, 2017
An attorney has been reprimanded with terms by the Fifth District Subcommittee of the Virginia State Bar for threatening to institute civil and criminal charges solely to obtain an advantage on behalf of his client.
Virginia Rule 3.4(i) prohibits the conduct.
The attorney represented a doctor and her clinic in a suit brought against a former patient who had posted an unfavorable Yelp review.
The complainant also posted an unfavorable review and testified on behalf of the sued reviewer. He testified that his wife was billed for medical services despite never being treated there.
Two days later, the attorney wrote to the complainant threatening to pursue perjury charges and a civil defamation claim and offering to discuss a settlement.
The complainant instead went to the Bar.
At the disciplinary hearing, the attorney testified that such threats were part of his regular practice. He produced "more than 30" such letters.
The term is probation for two years (and, presumably, a cessation of such letters). (Mike Frisch)