IN THE MATTER OF RONALD THOMPSON, AN ATTORNEY AT LAW
Argued: October 19, 2017
District Docket No. VB-2016-0006E
Kingsuk Bhattacharya appeared on behalf of the District VB
D. Garfinkle appeared on behalf of respondent.
A. Brodsky Chief Counsel.
C. Frost, Chair.
Honorable Chief Justice and Associate Justices of the Supreme
Court of New Jersey.
matter was before us pursuant to R. 1:20-6 (c) (1)
. The District VB Ethics Committee (DEC),
filed a two-count complaint charging respondent with
violating RPC 1.4(b) (failure to keep the client reasonably
informed about the status of the matter) and RPC 1.4(c)
(failure to explain the matter to the extent reasonably
necessary to permit the client to make informed decisions
regarding the representation). For the reasons expressed
below, we determine to impose a reprimand.
was admitted to the New Jersey bar in 1980 and the
Pennsylvania bar in 1979. On April 27, 1998, he received an
admonition for lack of diligence and failure to communicate
with his client in one matter. Specifically, in a
workers' compensation case, respondent sued the wrong
defendant, allowed the petition to be dismissed, successfully
filed an amended petition, allowed it to be
"discontinued," and wrote to his client at an
erroneous address, before finally being relieved as counsel.
In the Matter of Ronald Thompson, DRB 97-507 (April
years later, on June 23, 2010, respondent received a second
admonition for gross neglect, lack of diligence, and failure
to communicate with the client in a personal injury matter.
In that case, he represented a guardian ad litem on
behalf of her then minor daughter. Because respondent failed
to serve the defendant, the complaint was dismissed. The
court denied respondent's attempt to restore the matter
because he had waited more than a year after the dismissal to
attempt to do so. Four years after respondent filed the
original complaint, the minor reached the age of eighteen.
Respondent failed to refile the lawsuit in her name alone or
to take any further action, allowing the statute of
limitations to expire. We did not consider respondent's
prior admonition as an aggravating factor, based on the
passage of time. In the Matter of Ronald Thompson,
DRB 10-148 (June 23, 2010).
facts in this matter are as follows. On June 25, 2014, Jewel
Griner, the grievant, retained respondent to handle a
personal injury matter arising from injuries she had
sustained in a slip and fall incident on February 22, 2014.
Thereafter, respondent obtained Griner's medical records
and other relevant claim information, and submitted it to the
defendant's insurance carrier.
August 2015, after receiving notice of the claim, the carrier
wrote to respondent on several occasions. In the last of
these communications, dated August 28, 2015, the insurance
carrier denied Griner's claim. Between August 2015 and
February 2016, Griner attempted to contact respondent on at
least one occasion, and possibly more, but never heard from
letter dated February 3, 2016, respondent informed Griner
that the insurance carrier continued to deny her claim and
that he was not inclined to pursue the matter into
litigation. This letter was respondent's first
communication with Griner since his receipt of the August 28,
2015 letter. On February 16, 2016, in response to his letter,
Griner called respondent, leaving a message that she needed
to speak with him urgently.
respondent and Griner spoke directly, he advised her to pick
up her file on February 20, 2016. He prepared a complaint for
Griner to file pro se in order to preserve the
statute of limitations, which expired Monday, February 22,
2016. He informed Griner of the date of the statute of