Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Suing Current Client Is Non-Waivable Conflict

An indefinite suspension with the right to apply for reinstatement after six months was imposed by the Maryland Court of Appeals.

The attorney was retained by a couple to pursue a claim arising from a motor vehicle accident and ended uo suing one client on behalf of the other

On September 21, 2012, Respondent filed in the Circuit Court for Harford County a civil action against Mrs. Ware on behalf of Mr. Ware. Then, on September 24, 2012, Respondent filed a separate action in the Circuit Court for Harford County on behalf of both Mr. and Mrs. Ware against BH Motors. On February 23, 2013, the Circuit Court consolidated the two civil cases pursuant to a joint motion filed by the respective defendants. Ultimately, both cases were dismissed.

Respondent admitted that his representation of Mr. Ware against Mrs. Ware created a conflict of interest. Although Respondent maintained that he discussed the conflict of interest with the Wares, the hearing judge found otherwise based on the credible testimony of Mrs. Ware, who testified that Respondent never discussed the question of a conflict with her. Respondent acknowledged that he should have instructed Mr. Ware to retain a different attorney, or referred the case to another attorney, in the lawsuit against Mrs. Ware. In any event, the hearing judge found that Respondent “plainly knew, or should have known of this obvious conflict and ignored it.”

The court found this involved a non-waivable conflict.

The attorney engaged in fee-related misconduct and failed to respond to a second complaint. (Mike Frisch)


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