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TOLEDO BAR ASSOC.
Toledo Bar Association v. Mansour-Ismail.
[Cite as Toledo Bar Assn. v.
Mansour-Ismail (1999), 86 Ohio St.3d 27.]
Attorneys at law
Misconduct Public reprimand Communicating directly
with adverse parties represented by counsel about the subject of
the representation without their counsels consent.
(No. 99-380 Submitted
April 14, 1999 Decided June 16, 1999.)
On Certified Report by the Board
of Commissioners on Grievances and Discipline of the Supreme
Court, No. 97-16.
On February 18, 1997, relator, Toledo Bar
Association, filed a complaint charging respondent, Linda
Mansour-Ismail of Toledo, Ohio, Attorney Registration No.
0033929, with violating a Disciplinary Rule. After respondent
answered, the matter was heard by a panel of the Board of
Commissioners on Grievances and Discipline of the Supreme Court
Based on the stipulations, exhibits, and
testimony, the panel found that Leslie and Darla Vanderhorst
leased a home in Toledo from respondents father, Dr. N.A.
Mansour. In April 1996, respondent, on behalf of her father,
filed a complaint in the Toledo Municipal Court against the
Vanderhorsts, setting forth claims for forcible entry and
detainer due to nonpayment of rent, and for past-due rent and
other money damages. Respondent subsequently filed an amended
complaint containing the same claims. The Vanderhorsts were
represented in the case by an attorney from the Toledo Legal Aid
Society. In May 1996, the claim for forcible entry and detainer
was dismissed, and trial on the remaining claim for back rent and
damages was continued for further proceedings.
In June 1996, respondent filed a new complaint
in municipal court for forcible entry and detainer, past-due
rent, and other money damages, on behalf of her father and
against the Vanderhorsts. The claims in the new complaint were
virtually identical to the claims in the previously continued
case, and on the municipal courts designation form,
respondent referred to the new complaint as a refiling rather
than a new case.
On June 24, 1996, Mr. Vanderhorst spoke to an
attorney from the Toledo Legal Aid Society about him and his wife
settling the cases themselves by meeting directly with Dr.
Mansour. Despite the attorneys advice against it, the
Vanderhorsts met with Dr. Mansour. Upon being called thereafter
by her father, respondent met with the parties and they reached a
settlement. Respondent drafted a written settlement agreement,
which was presented to the municipal court. Respondent did not
contact the Toledo Legal Aid Society for the meeting, instead
claiming to rely on her father and the Vanderhorsts
representation that the Vanderhorsts were no longer represented
by counsel. However, according to the Vanderhorsts, they never
advised respondent or Dr. Mansour that they were not represented
by counsel on the claims being settled.
The panel further found that respondent knew
that the settlement agreement she drafted was intended to resolve
the damages issues in the previously continued case in which the
Vanderhorsts were represented by the Toledo Legal Aid Society, as
well as in the new case. Nevertheless, respondent never received
permission from the Toledo Legal Aid Society to talk directly to
the Vanderhorsts regarding Dr. Mansours claims. The panel
determined that because the claims in the two cases were
virtually identical and the payments tendered to Dr. Mansour by
the Vanderhorsts were intended to settle the damage issues in
both cases, respondent knew, or reasonably should have known,
that the Vanderhorsts were still represented by the Toledo Legal
Aid Society when she met with them.
The panel concluded that respondents
conduct in meeting directly with the Vanderhorsts when she knew
or should have known that they were represented by counsel
violated DR 7-104(A)(1) (communicating on the subject of
representation with a party known to be represented). The panel
recommended that respondent be publicly reprimanded. The board
adopted the findings, conclusions, and recommendation of the
David M. Mohr and Guy T. Barone,
James D. Caruso, for respondent.
We adopt the findings, conclusions, and
recommendation of the board. Respondent violated DR 7-104(A)(1)
by communicating directly with adverse parties represented by
counsel about the subject of the representation without their
counsels consent. As in comparable cases involving a
violation of DR 7-104(A)(1), a public reprimand is an appropriate
sanction. See Cleveland Bar Assn. v. Rossi (1998), 81 Ohio
St.3d 195, 690 N.E.2d 501; Trumbull Cty. Bar Assn. v. Makridis
(1996), 77 Ohio St.3d 73, 671 N.E.2d 31; Toledo Bar Assn.
v. Savage (1995), 74 Ohio St.3d 183, 657 N.E.2d 507.
Accordingly, respondent is hereby publicly reprimanded. Costs
taxed to respondent.
Moyer, C.J., Resnick, F.E. Sweeney, Pfeifer,
Cook and Lundberg Stratton, JJ., concur.
Douglas, J., not participating.