By B. David Mehmet April 17, 2013
THOMAS J. HILLGARDNER, ESQ. VIOLATES DR 2-103 under Porter vs. NYC Housing Authority Index No. 017424/11 (Queens) by soliciting the client/Plaintiff in Court. Plaintiff then claims Hillgardner abandoned her and mistreated her while she and her son were living in a family shelter.
A complaint has been filed with Tenant Protection Services against Mr. Hillgardner by a former client for his solicitation of the client in Court and for abandoning the client.
ILLGARDNER FAILS TO FILE NOTE OF ISSUE
This homeless tenant who was kicked out of her house with her son without being served with a Notice of Eviction was wrongly solicited in court by Hillgardner. The tenant won a contempt order against the NYC housing authority for failing to place her back into her home; but Hillgardner caused her Supreme Court case to be dismissed by failing to TIMELY file the Note of Issue. He then failed to timely file a motion to vacate the dismissal.
The Disciplinary Committee is being informed and an attorney is being hired to remedy the damage.
Mr. Hillgardner knew that his former client and her son were living in a family shelter and her lawsuit was to get her and her son back into her house she lived in for the last 29 years and for damages.
**If Mr. Hillgardner has harmed you, contact TenantProtection.org for help.**
The Disciplinary rule reads as follows:
“DR 2-103 [1200.08] Solicitation and Recommendation of Professional Employment.A. A lawyer shall not engage in solicitation: 1.by in-person or telephone contact, or by real-time or interactive computer-accessed communication unless the recipient is a close friend, relative, former client or existing client“
“NY DR 7-101(A)(1) further states that a lawyer “shall not intentionally . . . fail to seek the lawful objectives of [his or her] client through reasonably available means permitted by law and the Disciplinary Rules. NY DR 7-101(A)(3) prohibits a lawyer from “intentionally . . . prejudic[ing] or damag[ing] [his or her] client during the course of the relationship.” Referring link: http://www.law.cornell.edu/ethics/ny/narr/NY_NARR_1_03.HTM
COMPLAINT AGAINST THOMAS HILLGARDNER BY FORMER CLIENT:
per our conversation on 4/10/13 when I emailed you about seeking
another lawyer, I am stating my case briefly to you so can help me.
June 14, 2010 I was in Civil Court for a Travis Hearing to be
reinstated back to my home of 29years, when I was called in for the
hearing was first when I came across Mr. Hillgardner. Before I went
into the hearing Mr. Hillgardner approached me and asked me could he
sit in on my hearing and that he was an Attorney. At the time I was
very distressed, confused and did not think twice about Mr.
Hillgardner sitting in on my hearing since he presented himself to me
as an Attorney. After the hearing I had to return after lunch for the
decision. After I won the decision he asked me could he represent me
as his client. I had agreed to him being my Attorney because I did
not know any better at the time.
June 14, 2010 he became my Attorney and I thought that he was going
to represent me in a professional manner. During the first year I had
many problems with getting in contact with him, and when I did he
seemed to be very disrespectful most of the time. He talked very
nasty to me and my son on numerous of occasion. I lived at the time
from one family relative to another until March 2011. Due to the
seriousness of me being homeless I was unable to deal with anyone
especially my Attorney that made me feel worse than I did. By May of
2011 he pushed me to the limit and I decided not to call him for
awhile. I stopped calling October 2011 up until December 2012 a
little over a year later. I have not heard anything from him for
nothing. The last time I heard from him was when I was waiting to
hear from an Appeal from Supreme Applet Courts.
I called him December 2012 he stated, “Ms. Porter I was just
thinking of you, I just got the decision for your Civil Court Case
and you won the decision.” He also stated, “That something
was wrong with his phone back in July of 20112 and he could not
contact me.” I did not understand because I still have the same
number and I never received a call from him nor did I get a missed
called neither. OK, I felt that all was water under the bridge
something good is about to happen with my case. Still his attitude
was rude and unbearable to deal with for me and my son. So when he
hung up the phone on me this time I decided to GOOGLE him to find out
what kind of Attorney record he has and only then I realized that I
made the biggest mistake by signing a retainer with him. I also found
out on March 28, 2013 that my Supreme Court case was removed of the
calendar because when I was called to appear in Court sometime in
July of 2012 he (when I decided because of his disrespectful manner
not to call him) never contact me until I called him in December
stated to me that he was putting a motion into the court and I was to
wait for his call the week of April 8. 2013 and he did not called me.
When I called him April 10, 2013 he was very disrespectful to me and
told me, “you are not paying me any money.” I stated, “Why
would you say that when I signed a retainer so you would get paid.”
He stated, “I can not call him when ever I wanted to and expect him
to talk to me, and if I do not like what he is saying then I can find
another Attorney. Besides you get more from a person being sweet as
honey bees, than sour like vinegar.” He then hung up the phone and
I have not heard anything from him since then. I only called him
because he never returned my call and it is important to speak with
him ASAP to get my case back on the calendar.
HELP me I have a case in Civil Court with Judge Badio for NYCH to
restore me back into a place. I am currently living in a family
shelter for 2 years and need to get out….. I also have a Supreme
Court case for damages that I need to be restored back to the
calendar. I can be reached anytime at 347 617 1187. I look forward to
hearing from you soon.
Referring Link: http://www.law.cornell.edu/ethics/ny/narr/NY_NARR_1_03.HTM
“Running Afoul of a Statute of Limitations: See In re Gajewski, 217 A.D.2d 90, 634 N.Y.S.2d 704 (1st Dept. 1995) (lawyer suspended for one year for, among other neglectful behavior, allowing the statute of limitations to expire on a case).
Ignoring Pleadings: See Gigliotti v. Morasco, 2 A.D.2d 653, 152 N.Y.S.2d 45 (4th Dept. 1956) (court opined that a lawyer who was so dilatory as to ignore a bill of particulars until a motion to preclude is made might subject himself to disciplinary proceedings.)
Duty of Diligence Continues Despite Non-Payment of Attorneys’ Costs: See, e.g.,In re Pines, 26 A.D.2d 424, 275 N.Y.S.2d 122 (1st Dept. 1966) (client’s failure to reimburse attorney for disbursements did not excuse attorney’s failure to prosecute personal injury action for over 3 years).
Delegation of Responsibility: Kleeman v. Rheingold, 81 N.Y.2d 270, 598 N.Y.S.2d 149 (1993): Under DR 6-101, an attorney cannot delegate the duty to exercise care in handling a client’s legal matter. Accordingly, an attorney cannot escape liability for negligent service of process by delegating that task to an independent process server.
Neglect: Matter of Sorid, 189 A.D.2d 377, 596 N.Y.S.2d 125 (2nd Dept. 1993): An attorney violated DR 6-101 by failing to forward a settlement check to a client for two months, failing to retrieve file in an estate matter after a former employee removed it from the attorney’s offices, and by failing to probate an estate within four years. See also In re Lowenthal, 132 A.D.2d 117, 521 N.Y.S.2d 721 (2d Dept. 1987), appeal dismissed, 71 N.Y.2d 888 (1988)(lawyer that violated DR 6-101(A)(3) by neglecting an estate matter for more than seven years was suspended for two years for this and various other rules violations).
Family Problems No Excuse For Neglect: Matter of Sexton, 231 A.D.2d 832, 647 N.Y.S.2d 587 (3d Dep’t 1996) (acknowledging that “attorneys must attend to their clients’ interest punctually and with vigor despite distracting and stressful intrusions from personal and family problems or advise their clients of their option to obtain other counsel” and suspending neglectful counsel for 6 months).
Illness Not an Excuse: Matter of Whitbread, 183 A.D.2d 347, 591 N.Y.S.2d 117 (4th Dept. 1992) (Under DR 6-101, an attorney’s illness and divorce do not justify the attorney’s neglect of legal matters and abandonment of clients. Sanction: Suspended for one year).”