This is a sordid story of an attorney gone wrong, seriously wrong. Whether getting precluded while handling a legal malpractice case was the straw or not, a wake of devastation has been left in his wake.
Matter of Pierre 2017 NY Slip Op 06999 Decided on October 5, 2017 Appellate Division, First Department Per Curiam
“Respondent Alex H. Pierre was admitted to the practice of law in the State of New York by the First Judicial Department on June 10, 1991, under the name Alex Hugues Pierre. Respondent was also admitted to practice in Pennsylvania in 1993. Respondent’s last business address listed with the Office of Court Administration is in Manhattan. Since June 7, 1999, respondent has been suspended from the practice of law in New York State by this Court for failing to file and pay his biennial registration dues. He has not appeared in this matter.”
“In a report and recommendation dated June 13, 2005, the Board noted that there were two charges brought against respondent involving a total of 11 disciplinary violations and aggravating factors. With respect to the first charge, the Board found that: on July 9, 1998, a woman was injured while riding a Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) bus and on July 14, 1998, she retained respondent by executing a 40% contingency fee arrangement. The client received medical care from NovaCare Outpatient Rehabilitation. In June 1999, NovaCare’s counsel sought payment of her medical bill totaling $4,106.25. Respondent was given copies of the bills and a Statement of Account from NovaCare’s counsel.
By letter dated June 1, 2000, respondent wrote to SEPTA’s Claims Department seeking a claim number. However, by letter dated July 14, 2000, a SEPTA claim supervisor informed respondent that the statute of limitations had expired for third-party benefits. Respondent did not inform his client that he had failed to commence an action before the statute of limitations expired. SEPTA erroneously closed its claim file, even though the statute of limitations for the client’s claim for first-party benefits had not expired.
By letter dated November 27, 2000, respondent requested that SEPTA pay the NovaCare outstanding medical bill as it was a claim for first-party benefits. From December 2000 to February 2001, respondent provided SEPTA with numerous documents in support. On July 9, 2001, respondent commenced a lawsuit against SEPTA to recover first-party benefits for his client.”
“In a report and recommendation dated December 21, 2005, the Board set forth two charges. With respect to the first charge, they found that in 1998 when respondent was an associate at a law firm he filed a legal malpractice complaint but repeatedly failed to answer [*3]expert interrogatories, resulting in defense counsel obtaining two court orders directing him to produce responses, which he failed to do. In May 2000, respondent finally provided responses, albeit more than three months after the court ordered deadline. In June 2000, defense counsel moved to prohibit presentation of any expert testimony, and in August 2000, the trial court granted the defendants’ summary judgment motion. The trial court denied reconsideration and its decisions were affirmed by Pennsylvania appellate courts.”
“While the Pennsylvania court did not disbar respondent for his actions, this Court has found that where the sanction imposed in the original jurisdiction substantially deviates from that of New York, a more severe penalty may be imposed (see Matter of Munroe, 89 AD3d 1 [1st Dept 2011]). In Munroe this Court found that an attorney, who had been suspended for 2½ years in Massachusetts for engaging in a pattern of fraud, forgery, filing frivolous lawsuits and conversion, should be disbarred in New York (id.).
Here, the Pennsylvania court disciplined respondent after finding that he willfully engaged in the unauthorized practice of law for 18 months as he accepted new clients, failed to notify his new or former clients of his status, filed legal documents, and appeared in court numerous times after he was moved to “inactive” status. Under this Court’s precedent, engaging in the unauthorized practice of law over an extended period of time following a disciplinary suspension has resulted in disbarment (Matter of Sampson, 145 AD3d 95 [1st Dept 2016]; Matter of Rosabianca, 131 AD3d 215 [1st Dept 2015]).”
“In light of all of the circumstances and the nature of disbarment versus the punishment imposed by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania (a three-year suspension), the Committee’s motion for reciprocal discipline should be granted, and respondent is disbarred from the practice of law in the State of New York and his name stricken from the roll of attorneys and counselors-at-law, nunc pro tunc to August 30, 2005.”