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In re Lindsay

Supreme Court of New Jersey

February 21, 2018

In the Matter of Lawrence W. Lindsay

          Bonnie C. Frost, Esq.,, Chair Edna Y. Baugh, Esq.,, Vice-Chair Peter J, Boyer, Esq., Bruce W. Clark, Esq., Hon. Maurice J. Galupoij Thomas J. Hoberman Eileen Rivera Anne C Singer, Esq. Robert C.Zmi rich

          Ellen A Brodsky Chief Counsel

          Paula T. Granuho deputy Chief Counsel

          Melissa Urban First Assistant Counsel

          Timothy M. Ellis Lillian Lewin Baery R. Petersen, Jr Colin T. Tams Kathrtn Anne Winterle assistant counsel

          VIA REGULAR MAIL AND E-MAIL Lawrence W. Lindsay c/o Teri S. Lodge, Esq.

          LETTER OP ADMONITION

         Dear Mr. Lindsay:

         The Disciplinary Review Board has reviewed your conduct in the above matter and has concluded that it was improper. Following a review of the record, the Board determined to impose an admonition.

         Specifically, on December 8, 2014, Giovanni Esposito and grievant Alfio Sorbello retained you to form a limited liability home improvement company, naming them equal partners. On December 11, 2014, they signed a retainer agreement that outlined the scope of your services. Thereafter, in November 2015, the partners had a disagreement over business operations. Mr. Esposito represented to you that Mr. Sorbello had taken substantially all of the company's funds for his personal use; and that, after Mr. Esposito froze the company account, Mr. Sorbello removed company equipment, books, and records, prompting Mr. Esposito to lock Mr. Sorbello out of the office. Thereafter, Mr. Esposito reported that Mr. Sorbello broke into the office to remove the remaining computers and company records.

         Based on this information, you believed that, unless you acted immediately, the company would collapse; company contracts would be lost, making it impossible to service customers; and customer deposits would be irretrievably lost, exposing the partners and the company to civil lawsuits and possibly criminal prosecution. As a result, on November 18, 2015, without consulting or warning Mr. Sorbello, you filed a complaint in Superior Court Chancery Division, alleging theft, conversion, and breach of fiduciary duty, and seeking Mr. Sorbello's expulsion from the company, and the return of the property and money he had taken.

         On November 20, 2015, the court issued an order to show cause with temporary restraints, enjoining and restraining Mr. Sorbello from destroying company records or documents, and requiring him to surrender immediately such documents to the company's accountant. Thereafter, you failed to return Mr. Sorbello's calls. As you were leaving the state for the Thanksgiving holiday, you instructed your staff to direct Mr. Sorbello to put all communications to you in writing.

         On December 11, 2015, prior to the return date of the order to show cause, the parties met in your office to settle the matter. Mr. Esposito appeared with independent legal counsel; Mr. Sorbello appeared pro se. You prepared the settlement agreement, which the parties signed, and, thereafter, the litigation was dismissed.

         The Board found that your representation of Mr. Esposito was directly adverse to Mr. Sorbello's interests, a violation of RPC 1.7(a); and that your failure to return Mr. Sorbello's telephone calls, after you filed the complaint, violated RPC 1.4(b).

         In imposing only an admonition, the Board considered, in substantial mitigation that: (1) your legal career of thirty-seven years previously was unblemished; (2) you fully cooperated with ethics authorities and readily admitted wrongdoing; (3) you held a good faith belief that immediate action was necessary to protect the business and its customers from imminent and financial harm; (4) you also held a good faith belief that Mr. Esposito would be unable to obtain alternate counsel, around the holidays, in sufficient time to prevent irreparable harm to the company; (5) your conduct was not motivated by pecuniary benefit; (6) Mr. ...


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