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Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Public Reprimand No. 2009-12



BRIAN D. GRIFFIN

Order (public reprimand) entered by the Board May 26, 2009.

SUMMARY1


The respondent, Brian D. Griffin, Esq., is an attorney duly admitted to the Bar of the Commonwealth on December 12, 1991. In January of 2004, the respondent was retained to represent a client in a personal injury case. In July of 2005, the respondent filed suit on behalf of the client in Suffolk Superior Court. In June of 2006, counsel for the defendants served interrogatories and a request for production on the client by sending them to the respondent.

The respondent sent the discovery requests to the client and asked him to prepare draft answers to the interrogatories. The respondent also asked the client to call the respondent’s office to set up an appointment to review the interrogatory answers and document responses.

On July 19, 2006, defense counsel served a “final request for interrogatory answers pursuant to Mass.R.Civ.P. 33(a)(3),” and the respondent notified the client of the request and asked the client to call him. On September 7, 2006, the respondent wrote to the client, scheduling an appointment in the respondent’s office for September 26, 2006. The client mistakenly appeared at the respondent’s office on a different date when the respondent was not in. The client finally met with the respondent in his office on October 16, 2006. At that time, the client brought with him a computer disk containing his extensive draft answers to the defendants’ interrogatories and his document response.

The respondent took the client’s disk and also prepared his own handwritten draft answers, which were integrated with the electronic drafts provided by the client. However, because the respondent considered the draft answers to be incomplete and because there were apparent inconsistencies with the medical records, he did not prepare them for signature by the client and did not serve them on defense counsel.

Because the respondent served no answers to interrogatories, defense counsel prepared and served an application under Mass.R.Civ.P. Rule 33(a) for final judgment, which was filed with the court on November 22, 2006. The respondent did not notify the client of the receipt of the application for final judgment.

On December 4, 2006, the court entered judgment for the defendants, dismissing the client’s case. On December 11, 2006, the respondent wrote to the client, enclosing a copy of the dismissal of his case. The respondent’s letter also stated: “This also will serve to terminate my representation of you.” The respondent’s letter did not advise the client that it was possible to serve signed answers to interrogatories and seek relief from judgment or any other remedies that the client might have. The respondent took no further steps on the client’s behalf.

After the dismissal of his case, the client tried repeatedly to speak with the respondent, who either did not take or did not return the client’s calls. The respondent had no further contact the client until August 31, 2007, when he returned some of the client’s documents to the client as requested. The respondent returned further documents, by letter dated September 10, 2007. The respondent again wrote to the client on November 29, 2007, explaining that no settlement offers had ever been received in the client’s personal injury case.

At no time after the dismissal of the case did the respondent ever advise the client that it was possible to serve signed answers to interrogatories and seek relief from judgment or any other remedies that the client might have.

By failing to file answers to the defendant’s interrogatories, by failing to take other steps to prevent dismissal of the client’s case, and by failing to take steps to reinstate the client’s case after it was dismissed, the respondent violated Mass. R. Prof. C. 1.1, 1.2(a) and 1.3.

By failing to advise the client of the filing of the “final application” under Rule 33(a) to dismiss his case and by failing to advise the client of the steps that could be taken to reinstate the case after it was dismissed, the respondent violated Mass. R. Prof. C. 1.1, 1.2(a), 1.3 and 1.4.

By attempting to terminate his representation of the client without taking reasonably practicable steps to protect the client’s interests and by not seasonably returning all of the client’s files to him, the respondent violated Mass. R. Prof. C. 1.16(d).

The matter came before the Board of Bar Overseers on a stipulation of facts and a joint recommendation for discipline. On May 11, 2009, the board voted to accept the parties’ stipulation and to impose a public reprimand.


1 Compiled by the Board of Bar Overseers based on the record of proceedings before the Board.



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