BEFORE THE HEARING BOARD

OF THE

ILLINOIS ATTORNEY REGISTRATION

AND

DISCIPLINARY COMMISSION

In the Matter of:

MATTHEW JOHN MCDONALD,

Attorney-Respondent,

No. 6290171.

Commission No.  2013PR00037

FILED --- April 16, 2013

 

COMPLAINT

Jerome Larkin, Administrator of the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission, by his attorney, Christine P. Anderson, pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 753(b), complains of Respondent, Matthew John McDonald, who was licensed to practice law in the State of Illinois on November 9, 2006, and alleges that Respondent has engaged in the following conduct which tends to defeat the administration of justice or to bring the courts or the legal profession into disrepute, and which subjects Respondent to discipline pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 770:

COUNT I
(Lack of diligence in MRL Acquisition, LLC civil matter)

1. At all times alleged in this complaint, Respondent was an associate in the law firm entitled "Stamos & Trucco, LLP." Attorney James J. Stamos ("Stamos") was Respondent's supervisor and a partner in the Stamos & Trucco law firm.

2. On August 5, 2010, Respondent filed a motion to substitute his and Stamos' appearance as counsel for the defendant in the matter pending in the Circuit Court of Cook County entitled, Contech-MSI Co., v. MRL Acquisition, LLC, 10 L 000485. The motion was granted on August 9, 2010.

3. At all times alleged in this complaint, MRL was an affiliate of Medline Industries, Inc. Medline's General Counsel & Chief Compliance Officer was Alex Liberman ("Liberman"). Liberman was the contact person of the defendant for Respondent and Stamos in relation to case no. 10 L 000485.

4. On October 12, 2010, the plaintiff, Contech, through its counsel, filed a motion for summary judgment in case no. 10 L 000485. On that date, the Honorable Lynn M. Egan entered a briefing schedule on the motion for summary judgment. Respondent received a copy of the motion and briefing schedule shortly after they were filed.

5. On January 10, 2011, after Respondent had requested at least two extensions of time to file a response brief in case no. 10 L 000485, Judge Egan entered an order giving Respondent a final date of January 19, 2011 to file a response brief on behalf of MRL to Contech's motion for summary judgment. A status date was scheduled for February 10, 2011. Respondent was present in court on January 10, 2011 and drafted the court's order.

6. At no time did Respondent file a response brief on behalf of MRL in case no. 10 L 000485.

7. On February 10, 2011, Respondent did not appear in court for the status date in case no, 10 L 000485. On that date, Judge Egan entered an order for summary judgment in favor of Contech. Respondent did not notify his client, MRL, of the order for summary judgment.

8. On March 11, 2011, Respondent filed a motion to vacate the summary judgment order.

9. On April 11, 2011, Judge Egan denied the motion to vacate, without prejudice to defendant to bring an amended motion to vacate, and upheld the judgment against MRL in the amount of $47,088.00.

10. At no time did Respondent file an amended motion to vacate the summary judgment on behalf of MRL in case no. 10 L 000485.

11. On April 11, 2011, Contech issued a citation to discover assets to MRL in case no. 10 L 000485, requiring MRL's agent to appear in court on May 17, 2011. Respondent received a copy of the citation to discover assets shortly after it was filed. At no time did Respondent notify his client of the citation.

12. On May 17, 2011, Respondent appeared in court in case no. 10 L 000485. On that date, the Honorable Alexander P. White entered an order requiring MRL to produce the documents specified in the citation on or before June 7, 2011, and to present a corporate representative for an asset examination on or before June 21, 2011. Respondent received a copy of Judge White's order on May 17, 2011. At no time did Respondent notify his client, MRL, of the order, nor did he take any steps to comply with the court's May 17, 2011 order in case no. 10 L 000485.

13. By reason of the conduct described above, Respondent has engaged in the following misconduct:

  1. failure to act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client, in violation of Rule 1.3 of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct;

  2. failure to promptly inform the client of any decision or circumstance with respect to which the client's informed consent is required and to keep a client reasonably informed about the status of a matter, in violation of Rule 1.4(a) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct;

  3. conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice, in violation of Rule 8.4(d) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct; and

  4. conduct which tends to defeat the administration of justice or to bring the courts or the legal profession into disrepute.

COUNT II
(Failure to abide by a client's decisions and misrepresentations to client)

14. The Administrator realleges paragraphs one through 12 of Count I, above.

15. On June 1, 2011, Respondent communicated by email with his client MRL, through Alex Liberman. In that email, Respondent informed Liberman that summary judgment had been entered against MRL in case no. 10 L 000485 "based upon a procedural mix up at a routine status hearing." In that same email, Respondent went on to state that "the court vacated that judgment and ordered the Plaintiff to file its reply brief by June 20, 2011. We will return to court that day and get a hearing date on the motion." Respondent forwarded the June 1, 2011 email to Stamos.

16. Respondent's statements in the June 1, 2011 email, described in paragraph 15, above, were false. At the time he sent the email, Respondent knew that summary judgment had already been entered in case no. 10 L 000485, that a motion to vacate that summary judgment had been denied, and that he had taken no further action to vacate the judgment entered against the client.

17. On June 28, 2011, Contach filed a motion for issuance of a rule to show cause against MDL for its failure to comply with the citation to discover assets. Respondent received a copy of the motion shortly after it was filed. The motion was continued several times until August 31, 2011. At no time did Respondent notify his client, MRL, of the motion and court's orders.

18. On July 21, 2011, Respondent again communicated by email with his client MRL, through Liberman. In that email, Respondent informed Liberman that he had appeared in court that morning "for a hearing on Contech's motion for summary judgment." Respondent also stated that a judge sitting in place of Judge Egan "took the matter under advisement," and that he was scheduled to appear back for status on August 30, 2011, "at which point I expect the court will rule." Respondent forwarded the June 1, 2011 email to Stamos.

19. Respondent's statements in the July 21, 2011 email, described in paragraph 18 above, were false. At the time he sent the email, Respondent knew that summary judgment had already been entered in case no. 10 L 000485, that a motion to vacate that summary judgment had been denied and that he had taken no further action to vacate the judgment entered against the client.

20. As of August 30, 2011, MRL was unaware of the judgment, the citation to discover assets and the motion for rule to show cause filed against them. On or about that date, Respondent purported to settle case no. 10 L 000485 with Contach for $50,000.00. At no time did Respondent receive authorization from his client, MRL, to settle case no. 10 L 000485.

21. On September 21, 2011, after Respondent's failure to comply with the settlement terms he agreed to with Contach, MRL was served with a second citation to discover assets. That citation was sent by MRL's registered agent directly to Respondent's client, Alex Lieberman of Medline. At that time, Lieberman and Stamos learned for the first time that the summary judgment had not been vacated, that a citation to discover assets had been filed, that a motion for rule to show cause had been filed and that Respondent purported to settle the case without the client's authorization.

22. By reason of the conduct described above, Respondent has engaged in the following misconduct:

  1. failure to abide by the client's decisions concerning the objectives of representation, in violation of Rule 1.2(a) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct;

  2. failure to promptly inform the client of any decision or circumstance with respect to which the client's informed consent is required, to keep a client reasonably informed about the status of a matter and to promptly comply with reasonable requests for information, in violation of Rule 1.4(a) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct;

  3. making a false statement of material fact to a third person, in violation of Rule 4.1(a) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct;

  4. conduct involving dishonesty, deceit, fraud, or misrepresentation, in violation of Rule 8.4(c) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct;

  5. conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice, in violation of Rule 8.4(d) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct; and

  6. conduct which tends to defeat the administration of justice or to bring the courts or the legal profession into disrepute.

COUNT III
(Creation of false court order and misrepresentations to law firm partner-Stamos)

23. The Administrator realleges paragraphs one through 21 of Count II, above.

24. In or about June 2011, Respondent created a false court order which purported to have been entered by Judge Egan in case no. 10 L 000485. The purported order stated that Judge Egan had vacated the order for summary judgment entered in February 2011.

25. In or about June 2011, Respondent met with Stamos. During that meeting, Respondent advised Stamos that the summary judgment in case no. 10 L 000485 had been "vacated" and that he was waiting on a "reply brief" from Contech. At that time, Respondent also showed Stamos the purported court order he had drafted, described in paragraph 24, above, which purported to vacate the order for summary judgment entered in February 2011.

26. Respondent's creation of the purported court order and his statements to Stamos, described in paragraphs 24 and 25 above, were false. Respondent created the purported court order to deceive Stamos and to conceal the true status of the litigation in case no. 10 L 000485. Respondent knew that summary judgment had already been entered in the case, and that a motion to vacate the summary judgment had been denied on April 11, 2011.

27. Throughout the period from February 10, 2011, through September 20, 2011, Respondent communicated on various occasions with Stamos about case no. 10 L 000485. During those conversations, Respondent advised Stamos that the summary judgment order had been vacated and that the motion for summary judgment remained pending.

28. Respondent's communications to Stamos, described in paragraph 27 above, were false. During that period, Respondent knew that the motion for summary judgment had been granted on February 10, 2011, and that Respondent's motion to vacate was denied on April 11, 2011 and that he had taken no further action to vacate the judgment.

29. By reason of the conduct described above, Respondent has engaged in the following misconduct:

  1. making a false statement of material fact to a third person, in violation of Rule 4.1(a) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct;

  2. conduct involving dishonesty, deceit, fraud, or misrepresentation, in violation of Rule 8.4(c) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct;

  3. conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice, in violation of Rule 8.4(d) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct; and

  4. conduct which tends to defeat the administration of justice or to bring the courts or the legal profession into disrepute.

WHEREFORE, the Administrator respectfully requests that this matter be assigned to a panel of the Hearing Board, that a hearing be held, and that the panel make findings of fact, conclusions of fact and law, and a recommendation for such discipline as is warranted.

Christine P. Anderson
Counsel for the Administrator
130 East Randolph Drive, Suite 1500
Chicago, Illinois 60601
Telephone: 312-565-2600

Respectfully submitted,

Jerome Larkin, Administrator
Attorney Registration and
Disciplinary Commission

By:  Christine P. Anderson