Friday, August 30, 2013
Does A Lawyer Who Is The Client In A Frivolous Suit Violate Ethics Rules?
The Missouri Supreme Court imposed an indefinite suspension without leave to seek reinstatement for six months in a matter involving reciprocal discipline of an attorney sanctioned in Illinois.
The attorney was found to have pursued frivolous and meritless claims by authorizing the filing of attorney's liens and lawsuits alleging breach of contract, breach of promise, interference with attorney's liens and unjust enrichment. The frivolous claims caused delay to the former clients' receipt of settlement proceeds and wasted judicial resources.
The court concluded that the fact that the sanctioned attorney acted through his own counsel did not relieve him of his ethical obligations.
A concurring opinion by Judge Breckenridge would find that the frivolous litigation rule only applies to attorneys who act as an advocate and not as a client.
A dissent by Judge Teitelman would find no violation of Missouri rules.
Illinois had imposed a six-month suspension. (Mike Frisch)