A Statewide Grievance Committee decision tossing out a grievance complaint against Day Pitney and Koskoff Koskoff & Bieder is among the key cases slated for the state Supreme Court this spring.
The court will hear arguments in two weeks on whether the grievance committee acted properly when it dismissed a complaint against the two notable Connecticut law firms. The court’s seventh session begins Monday and runs through April 5.
The plaintiffs, parents of a disabled boy, are seeking an order of mandamus and injunctive relief in connection with the dismissal of their complaints. The parents allege the committee disregarded statutory mandates, abused its discretion and acted arbitrarily in the handling of the grievance complaints.
The parents initially filed complaints against their former attorneys, alleging they conspired to deprive them of millions of dollars from a $25 million medical malpractice settlement. Daniel D’Attilo was severely injured at birth and today suffers from cerebral palsy as a result. Daniel was born in a Stamford hospital with severe brain damage allegedly caused by a doctor’s mistakes during birth.
A Hartford Superior Court judge granted the grievance committee’s motion to dismiss the complaint, finding the parents lacked standing since they were not statutorily aggrieved. The state’s high court will determine whether the grievance committee’s action was properly dismissed for lack of aggrievement, and whether it properly declined to intervene in the grievance process pursuant to its authority.
Finding no probable cause by the committee that seven attorneys from Bridgeport’s Koskoff firm and Hartford’s Day Pitney were guilty of misconduct, the plaintiffs brought legal action against the committee and other officials involved in the process.
The attorney defendants in the December 2014 lawsuit are Michael Koskoff, Kathleen Nastri, James Horwitz, William Bloss and Joel Lichtenstein of the Koskoff firm and Keith Gallant and Rebecca Iannantuoni of Day Pitney.
A $58.6 million jury verdict in 2011 in favor of the family was eventually settled for $25 million. Reported previously in the Connecticut Law Tribune, both law firms were charged in a 16-count civil suit of illegally taking $4.3 million in unearned fees and using elaborate tactics to escape detection by the probate court system. Day Pitney attorneys were brought into the case to create a trust fund for the disabled boy.
Elizabeth Rowe, assistant bar counsel for the Statewide Grievance Committee, declined to comment Tuesday.
Josh Koskoff, a partner with the Koskoff firm, did not respond to a request for comment. In addition, a representative for Day Pitney declined to comment.
Jamie Sullivan, a partner with Howard Kohn Sprague & FitzGerald in Hartford, said he expects a ruling that goes against the grievance committee would have limited impact.
“It’s always been understood that the courts have an inherent authority to discipline attorneys, but they often deter to the Statewide Grievance Committee because we are a self-regulated bar and the grievance committee has specialized knowledge about the rules of professional conduct,” Sullivan said. “It would be a surprise, for that reason, if they found against the grievance committee.”
Sullivan, who is not associated with the case, added: “This case is all about sound and fury. The Statewide Grievance Committee acted appropriately, as it usually does, and there is really nothing to appeal. I think the trial court decided the issues correctly.”