The Supreme Judicial Court (“SJC”) recently suspended a Massachusetts attorney, who made intentional misrepresentations to four of his clients. In the matter of Alexander R. Cain, an attorney was found to have fabricated documents, lied to his clients, and failed to diligently pursue his client’s claims and interests.
In the first case, the attorney was hired to file a federal court complaint against a municipality, alleging retaliation and harassment following the client’s cooperation with the FBI. For approximately nine months, the attorney informed the client that a complaint had been filed, even though the attorney knew he had not done so, and also sent the client fabricated court documents. The attorney eventually filed a complaint, but all of the claims were dismissed, including several on statute of limitations grounds. The attorney then informed his client that he would appeal the dismissal, but never took any other action.
In the second matter, a client hired the attorney to bring a claim against her employer. The attorney falsely represented that the employer had agreed to settle the case, and had the client execute a settlement agreement. The attorney then informed the client to appear at the courthouse to have the settlement approved by a judge. However, on the morning of each court date, he called the client and told her that the hearing had been postponed. The client eventually discovered that a lawsuit had never been filed and that the employer had never made any settlement offer.
In the third matter, a client retained the attorney to bring a civil rights claim against a municipality and to represent him in a personal injury case. The attorney again made false statements to the client regarding purported settlements. However, he had never commenced either lawsuit or engaged in any settlement negotiations with the defendants.
In the fourth case, the attorney represented a client in a criminal matter. After failing to inform the client to appear at several court hearings, default warrants issued, and the client was arrested. The attorney also falsely claimed that the charges had been dropped and the case was dismissed for after payment of a normal fine. Upon learning that the case was still active two years later, the client was forced to resolve the matter by himself.
After an investigation into the attorney’s conduct by the Board of Bar Overseers (“BBO”), the board found that the attorney had violated numerous Rules of Professional Conduct, including Rules 1.1, 1.2 (a), 1.3, and 1.4 for failing to diligently pursue his client’s cases, and Rule 8.4 (c) and (h) for making repeated misrepresentations to his clients. After consideration of the BBO’s findings, the SJC issued an order suspending the attorney for three years.
Decision: In Re: Alexander R. Cain