Risk Update

Conflicts Drama Allegations — Client Poaching, Suing Own Client & Expert Witness Conflicts Conflict

Former Associate Accused of Client Poaching Wants Cicchiello & Cicchiello’s Lawyer Disqualified” —

  • “In an unusual move, the attorney for former Cicchiello & Cicchiello associate Alex Sarris, who the personal injury law firm said conspired with another law firm to lure clients away, has filed a motion asking Superior Court Judge David Sheridan to disqualify plaintiffs counsel Lawrence Connelli.”
  • “In a lawsuit filed last month, Cicchiello & Cicchiello alleges Sarris used the firm’s computer system to obtain information on all its workers’ compensation and personal injury clients.”
  • “The reason New London attorney Michael Bonnano, who represents defendant firm Dzialo, Pickett & Allen, gives in filing the motion Monday is that Connelli not only represents plaintiff Cicchiello & Cicchiello, but is also working for the defendant law firm giving expert advice in a pending car accident case.”
  • “The motion notes Connelli, an Avon solo practitioner, ‘is under contract to provide consulting and testimonial services to DPA. He has now sued his own client.'”
  • “But Leslie Levin, a Hugh Macgill professor of law at the University of Connecticut School of Law, said Bonnano should have been looking at a different part of the rule. ‘The defendant’s argument is that (Connelli) is the law firm’s client, but an expert witness for a firm is not serving as the firm’s lawyer,’ Levin said Tuesday. Levin isn’t a party to the litigation at hand.”
  • “Levin added: ‘It would be a bad thing if lawyers who are serving as expert witnesses were considered to be the lawyers for the law firm, because law firms would have too much authority to direct the lawyer’s testimony.'”
  • “Levin continued: ‘The better argument the defense could have made, but didn’t, is that Connelli would be materially limited in his ability to represent the plaintiff law firm in this action while also serving as an expert witness for the defendant client in the car accident litigation.'”