In The Matter Of Michael David Lindner, Jr. An Attorney At Law
Docket No. XIV-2017-0404E
Honorable Chief Justice and Associate Justices of the Supreme
Court of New Jersey.
matter was previously before us at our October 18, 2018
session. At that time, we considered respondent's October
16, 2018 letter as a request for additional time to file a
motion to vacate the default, and granted the request.
Thereafter, on November 2, 2018, respondent filed a motion to
vacate the default.
complaint charged respondent with violations of RPC
5.5(a)(1) (unauthorized practice of law - failure to maintain
liability insurance while practicing as a limited liability
company), RPC 8.1(a) (false statement of material
fact in connection with a disciplinary matter), RPC
8.1(b) (failure to comply with a lawful demand for
information from a disciplinary authority), RPC
8.4(c) (conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or
misrepresentation), and RPC 8.4(d) (conduct
prejudicial to the administration of justice). For the
reasons expressed below, we determine to deny
respondent's motion and impose an admonition.
was admitted to the New Jersey and Pennsylvania bars in 1995.
He maintains a law office in Pitman, New Jersey. He has no
history of discipline.
complaint alleged that respondent violated RPC
5.5(a) by failing to maintain required liability insurance,
when practicing as a limited liability corporation. In 2016
and 2017, two attorneys, Philip Faccenda, Esq. and Benjamin
Folkman, Esq., requested from the Clerk of the Supreme Court
of New Jersey copies of respondent's certificates of
insurance, because the attorneys were investigating potential
claims for respondent's professional negligence.
2016 and May 2017, the Clerk's office requested from
respondent proof of his mandatory insurance coverage within
fourteen days. Both letters notified respondent that, if he
failed to comply, the Clerk would notify the Office of
Attorney Ethics (OAE) of his non-compliance. Because
respondent failed to reply, on June 29, 2017, the Clerk
referred the matter to the OAE. Thereafter, on July 12, 2017,
respondent submitted a reply to the Clerk.
19, 2017, the OAE requested a written reply to the
Clerk's referral. By letter dated July 24, 2017,
respondent denied knowledge of the two attorneys'
requests for copies of his certificates of malpractice
insurance, but admitted that he failed to maintain the
insurance required by R.1:21-1. Respondent's letter added
that, for the most part, he had closed his law office due to
severe financial problems and that he had been working
full-time as an insurance agent. He practiced law only
two-to-three hours per month.
a September 2017 OAE demand interview, respondent
acknowledged receipt of the Clerk's letters and of the
letters from the two attorneys seeking copies of his
insurance certificates, and admitted that his earlier
statements to the OAE that he had not received the letters
was not accurate.
complaint, thus, alleged that respondent violated
RPC 5.5(a)(1) by failing to maintain the mandatory
liability insurance; RPC 8.1(b) and RPC
8.4(d) by failing to reply to lawful demands for information
from the Supreme Court, a disciplinary authority; and
RPC 8.1(a) and RPC 8.4(c) by
misrepresenting facts to the OAE, in a written statement,
when he denied having received letters from the two
letter-motion dated November 2, 2018, respondent maintained
that he had not filed an answer to the complaint because the
main allegation (a violation of RPC 5.5(a)(1)) was true. He
was prepared to accept the sanction that came with a default
judgment on that issue, and had previously provided
explanations for his failure to maintain the insurance in two
letters and at the OAE demand interview.
asserted that he had not noticed the additional charges
against him until the day before our October 18, 2018
session, when he "re-reviewed the complaint." He
denied that he had failed to reply to a demand for
information from the Court or that he had made
misrepresentations to the OAE.
admitted that his reasons for failing to file an answer were
"not great," but in the interests of justice,
requested that we vacate the default; accept his answer to
the complaint, which was attached to his motion; and rule on
the matter considering the additional information he
respect of the substance of the charges, respondent conceded
that he received a letter from the Court Clerk in May 2017,
but asserted that, shortly thereafter, he underwent
significant medical treatment that had him "out of
work" until mid-July. He suffered from medical issues -
"debilitating headaches" leading him to believe
that he was having a stroke or "some type of
bleed," causing two hospital visits, visits to urgent
care facilities, family doctors, and multiple specialists;
various treatments; and a referral to the headache treatment
center at Jefferson Hospital, which led to further testing
and medications. Respondent opined that his medical problems
likely were caused by stress due to his financial pressures.
His medical issues prevented him from working for a
significant time. When ...