Tuesday, June 21, 2022
"I Had No Role"
An attorney who used a Morris Bart LLP colleague's name and bar number in an Illinois proceeding should be suspended for six months with five months stayed, according to a recent recommendation of the Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board.
Respondent and Mr. Lubecki are not social acquaintances, and they have not worked together on any cases at Morris Bart, LLC.
Respondent is licensed to practice law only in Louisiana. Mr. Lubecki is licensed to practice law both in Louisiana and Illinois.
Respondent named Mr. Lubecki as counsel in state court litigation against Abbott Labs without permission or authority.
Communication between them ensued after Mr. Lubecki got notice of a proposed removal of the case to federal court.
Mr. Lubecki...responded to Respondent's January 24, 2019 email: "Rick, My role? I had no role. There was no discussion. You forged my signature and filed a lawsuit in my name without my knowledge or consent." During his sworn testimony, Mr. Lubecki explained why he responded this way: "[Respondent] admits to certain things in this email, but sort of the big elephant that's missing from this is the fact that he never had permission to do any of this .... [Respondent] never mentions the crux of what this is about, which is his fraud filing of this petition without permission. And so that angered me, so I just responded as I did."
Morris Bart, LLC hired its own counsel to review Respondent's conduct regarding the Litigation. That counsel prepared a draft recommended self-report for Respondent to submit to the ODC. Respondent thereafter chose not to self-report his misconduct to the ODC.
Mr. Lubecki made the ODC report.
Mr. Root is charged with a single instance of false representation to the court and the other parties in the Illinois litigation. His conduct did not cause harm to a particular client, rather he caused potential harm to the legal system and the profession. Given the above case law, and considering the totality of the circumstances of this matter including his lack of a disciplinary history, the Board concludes that a six-month suspension, with five months deferred is the appropriate sanction for Respondent’s misconduct.