A Bronx, N.Y., judge has sanctioned a personal injury lawyer and his firm $15,000 over their attempts to keep a $574,000 attorney fee for themselves, despite a written agreement to divide the fee equally with out-of-state co-counsel.

The parents of Marek Leskinen, a brain-damaged infant, retained Maryland lawyer Dov Apfel in 1997 to represent them in a medical malpractice suit against Lawrence Hospital in the Bronx. Apfel, who is not admitted to practice in New York, in turn brought in David M. Shearer of Shearer & Essner of Manhattan to act as local counsel.

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