Lisitano v. Alexander
An attorney who allegedly fails to transfer a former client's file to the client's new attorney violates Rule 1.15(e) of the Rules of Professional Conduct. The complainant, Lori Lisitano, allegedly sought Social Security disability from the Social Security Administration, and her initial application was denied. Lisitano hired the respondent attorney, Heidi Alexander of Middletown, to represent her in connection with an appeal. Allegedly, the respondent attorney signed an acceptance of appointment form and did not provide her client with a written fee contract, file the appeal or inform her client that she did not plan to file the appeal. The complainant attempted to contact the respondent attorney and allegedly did not receive any reply to phone calls and e-mail. The complainant requested that the respondent attorney transfer her file to another attorney, and the respondent allegedly did not comply. The Statewide Grievance Committee found, by clear and convincing evidence, that the respondent attorney was not competent and diligent, in violation of Rules 1.1 and 1.3 of the Rules of Professional Conduct. The respondent did not communicate adequately with her client, in violation of Rule 1.4. The respondent did not provide a written fee contract, which explained the scope of the attorney's representation and the basis of the attorney's fee, in violation of Rule 1.5(b). The respondent failed to transfer her former client's file to her client's new attorney, in violation of Rule 1.15(e). Rule 1.15(e) provides, "[A] lawyer shall promptly deliver to the client or third person any funds or other property that the client or third person is entitled to receive." The Statewide Grievance Committee ordered the respondent's presentment to Superior Court for discipline, because the respondent violated five Rules of Professional Conduct.