In The Matter Of Timothy Andrew Dillon Attorney At Law
Argued: November 15, 2018
Docket No. XIV-2018-0031E
Hillary K. Horton appeared on behalf of the Office of
Respondent appeared pro se.
Honorable Chief Justice and Associate Justices of the Supreme
Court of New Jersey.
matter was before us on a motion for reciprocal discipline
filed by the Office of Attorney Ethics (OAE), pursuant to R.
1:20-14(a)(4), based on respondent's reprimand in
Delaware for violations of the equivalents of New Jersey
RPC 1.1(a) and (b) (gross neglect and pattern of
neglect), RPC 1.3 (lack of diligence), RPC
1.15(d) (recordkeeping), RPC 3.4(c) (knowingly disobeying an
obligation under the rules of a tribunal), RPC
5.3(b) and (c)(2) (failure to supervise nonlawyer staff),
RPC 8.4(c) (conduct involving dishonesty, fraud,
deceit or misrepresentation), and RPC 8.4(d)
(conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice).
determine to impose a reprimand.
was admitted to the New Jersey and Delaware bars in 1999, and
the Pennsylvania bar in 1997. He has no prior discipline in
relevant facts are contained in a November 7, 2017 Report and
Recommendations prepared by a panel of the Board on
Professional Responsibility of the Supreme Court of the State
of Delaware (BPR).
March 2, 2017, the Delaware Office of Disciplinary Counsel
(ODC) filed a nine-count petition for discipline with the
BPR. Thereafter, on March 20, 2017, respondent filed an
answer in which he admitted virtually all of the factual
allegations and RPC violations contained in the
13, 2017, a disciplinary hearing was held before a hearing
panel of the BPR. At the outset, respondent's counsel
noted respondent's admission of misconduct, stating that
"[t]his is not a who done it. It's an admitted
matter had been referred to Delaware ethics authorities by
the Honorable John A. Parkins, Jr., a Delaware Superior Court
judge, after he dismissed, without prejudice, four complaints
that respondent had filed, for failure to serve the
Delaware ethics hearing, respondent admitted that Delaware
Superior Court Rule 4(j) limits the time for service of a
summons and complaint to 120 days. A plaintiff may move for
the enlargement of time to effect service or for the
appointment of a process server. During the ethics
investigation, respondent reviewed his files and found an
additional thirteen client matters in which service issues
had caused unreasonable delays, but had not resulted in
dismissal. Respondent disclosed his findings to Delaware
ethics authorities, as discussed below.
admitted that, during the relevant time, he was the managing
attorney of the Wilmington, Delaware office of McCann &
Wall, LLC, a "plaintiffs firm." He described his
managing attorney title as largely honorary, because he was
not a partner in the firm. Rather, respondent had been hired
in 2008 as the sole attorney in the Wilmington office,
"to run the Delaware caseload" and replace an
attorney "who didn't work out." Since 2008,
respondent's practice areas have been plaintiffs work,
personal injury, premise liability, and motor vehicle cases.
As managing attorney, respondent signed and filed all of the
subject personal injury complaints.
had assigned to his two paralegals the responsibility of case
monitoring to ensure proper service on the defendants in the
seventeen cases in question. He conceded that the paralegals
whom he supervised had not followed through to confirm
service. In turn, respondent had failed to supervise their
work to ensure that service was complete.
previously noted, due to respondent's failure to locate
defendants, the Superior Court dismissed four complaints that
he had filed. In Huelsenbeck v. Fermin-Jimenez and
Hichez-Sabino, respondent filed the complaint on July
18, 2012, and, on November 12, 2012, successfully moved to
expand the time to serve the defendants by an additional
sixty days. Thirty-six days after the expiration of the
additional time, respondent moved for a second extension. On
June 7, 2013, Judge Parkins denied the motion without
prejudice, for failure to show "due diligence in
attempting to serve defendants and therefore [respondent] has
not shown 'good cause' for his failure to do so, the
court has no option but to dismiss the case."
Skinner v. Fleming, after respondent filed a March
11, 2015 complaint, the summons was returned, on April 16,
2015, not served. Seven months later, on November 18, 2015,
the Prothonotary (clerk's office) issued a notice that
the case would be dismissed if no further proceedings were
undertaken. The following day, November 19, 2015, some 130
days after the 120-day period for service had expired,
respondent moved to enlarge the time for service.
in Oliver v. Spitelle, respondent filed an April 15,
2015 complaint, which was returned on May 15, 2015, not
served. On November 18, 2015, the Prothonotary issued a
similar notice that the case would be dismissed if no
proceedings were undertaken. The next day, November 19, 2015
(96 days after the 120-day period for service had expired),
respondent moved the Superior Court to enlarge the time for
January 8, 2016 letter opinion, Judge Parkins dismissed the
Skinner and Oliver cases, without
prejudice, finding that "Plaintiff did absolutely
nothing to complete service after the original summons was
returned non est [not served]. Months went by and
the 120 day deadline came and went without any attempt to
locate and serve the defendant."
Ricketts v. Brown and GEICO, respondent filed a
complaint on April 21, 2015, the summons for which was
returned on June 1, 2015 not served, as to defendant Brown.
Geico was properly served. On August 25, 2015 (6 days after
the 120-period for service had expired), respondent
successfully moved to enlarge the time for service by another
120 days. Thereafter, on April 24, 2016 (95 days after the
additional 120-day service period had expired), respondent
moved to appoint a special process server. On June 3, 2016,
Judge Parkins denied that motion, and dismissed the case,
without prejudice, for respondent's failure to timely
serve defendant Brown.
thirteen additional matters, too, respondent had filed
complaints whose summonses were then returned, not served.
Thereafter, he filed untimely motions for the enlargement of
time to serve the defendants. The time past the 120-day
service deadline ranged from as few as ten days to as many as
106 days, with an average lateness of forty-six days.
to respondent, he managed to refile the four dismissed
complaints under the "Delaware Saving Statute."
Most of the thirteen additional matters resulted in
settlements. None of those clients was harmed beyond the
delay in having their matters reach the settlement stage.
Respondent conceded, however, that his inaction in these
matters had wasted judicial resources.
respect of recordkeeping violations, respondent admitted
that, as the managing attorney of McCann & Wall's
Wilmington office, he had the primary responsibility to
maintain the attorney books and records of the Wilmington law
office. Those records, including the firm's Delaware
attorney escrow and operating account records, were
maintained, apparently by others, in the law firm's
Philadelphia office. Respondent had mistakenly assumed ...