- Report: #1085726
Report - Rebuttal - Arbitrate
Complaint Review: Stephen Sullivan
Stephen Sullivan170 Monmouth Street Red Bank, New Jersey USA
Stephen Sullivan unethical lawyer and legal malpractice Red Bank New Jersey
*Author of original report: Settlement
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1. I was looking for an honest attorney to represent me regarding legal malpractice. I was a victim of consumer fraud. The company/person refused to return my property to me, and they sued me for $7,500. I initially hired two attorneys, both of whom took my retainer and did nothing. Both times I found out from the court I was represented pro se. The second attorney did not even show up for a hearing, and a judgment was entered against me for the $7,500. I hired Keefe/Bartels to vacate the judgment, and to counterclaim for the value of my property. I had a witness who was deposed for 9 hours. The firm switched lawyers on me 3 times, and in the transition lost important evidence, both from my witness, and also important prices realized related to the valuation of my property. I only found out in February, 2013 that Lori Dvorak did not abandon me and the firm, but she was locked out and could not represent me. Keefe lied about the circumstances of her departure.
When Keefe forced me to use Stephen Sullivan, Keefe said I would incur no other charges. During that time he processed thousands of dollars of my checks without ever deducting them from my bill. My #45 refers to these checks. At the time I did not care because of his promise of no other billing. He lied. Twenty-two months later, two months before the trial Keefe sent me a new bill for $22,356. They then tried to get me to simply drop my case.
Keefe switched lawyers on me 3 times. He lost important evidence from my witness, and also regarding my valuations. The day of trial I was refused a jury trial as promised. The day of trial I was told they would not use my witness "because you know your witness and the judge will look unfavorable on it." I could not win my case without any witness. The judge said I should have had a witness. He said the Court could not award damages since my claim did not include bailment. His counterclaim was worthless. I lost over $100,000 in property and I was charged $57,000 to get a $7,500 judgment vacated.
I was billed $59,000 to only get the $7,500 judgment removed. I lost all of my property worth $126,000.I feel Sullivan/Keefe Bartels either never cared about winning my case, or intentionally lost it rather than returning my fees to me, and subjecting themselves to immediate malpractice claims.
After the sham trial, Angela Roper said she would represent me as I had a very strong malpractice case. After 2 years she returned my documents to me, saying she was too busy.
I believe Keefe Bartels are guilty of unjust enrichment, as well as breach of contract. Their negligence caused the loss of my property valued in excess of $125,000. They were supposed to counterclaim at treble damages. According to the Judge, the Court could not award any damages since my counterclaim neglected to include bailment, and I should have presented a witness. Please note that I have hard copies of all files, including all motions, and some sample catalogs and their auction results which were supposed to be have been used at trial.
Thank you for your review.
Stephen Sullivan was the third lawyer assigned to represent me by Keefe Bartels. Both he and John Keefe, Jr. told me Lori Dvorak abandoned both me and the firm without any notice. I was not given my legal right to have Lori continue her representation should I have chosen. I only recently learned that Lori was literally locked out of the firm. I was told that there would be no further charges since I had paid enough. Twenty-two months between bills, and two months before trial, they sent me a bill for another $22,356. They then tried to get me to simply drop my case.
I note the following areas of negligence by Sullivan:
1. Failure to allege bailment which totally eliminated any chance of obtaining damages in my counterclaim.
1.1 The judge commented that he could not even consider
damages since he and his firm had not addressed bailment.
2. Failure to use my expert and fact witness who saw the condition of my cards before they were sent to Lifson.
2.1 The judge commented that this witness was necessary.
3. Losing evidence.
3.1 I gave his firm several irreplaceable catalogs and other documents that were crucial to my case. Your firm lost them.
3.2 His firm lost my witnesses notes taken during his deposition.
4. I went through at least three lawyers with this firm, each of whom had to be brought up to speed on my case. This leads me to conclude that you placed my case at the bottom of the barrel.
4.1 Abandonment of a client’s matter and lack of due diligence.
4.2 Payment for duplication of effort by various attorneys
5. Improper direct examination.
5.1 He failed to ask me about how I determined the condition and value of my cards at the trial.
5.2 There was no proper addressing at trial of the dozens of other cards which were trimmed and substituted. These were not indicated in his appraisal report(s) of my cards, the second of which was presented to the court.
5.3 No redirect or cross examination at trial where you promised to address the crucial issue of trimmed/replaced cards.
6. Improper Cross examination of Lifson.
6.1 Failure to refer to evidence that would have contradicted his testimony, including but not limited to his solicitation of my high quality, high-grade cards, and the inconsistency of his communications to me.
6.2 Lifson’s letters to the Office of the Attorney General were never addressed. Lifson clearly lied, and clearly misrepresented the value of my high-grade cards.
6.3 Sullivan never addressed grading standards, and the importance of trimmed cards.
6.4 He refused to use me as an expert witness for my own property.
7. Lack of communications on a consistent basis as indicated by my
letters and emails of 9/18/06, 12/18/06, 1/15/06, 7/23/07, 8/27/07, etc.
8. Up until the very day of trial I was promised a jury trial. This
was also indicated in my claim. Instead, I was told that we were
using a judge because that’s what the Court and the other
9. My last bill was paid in September, 2006. On January 4,
2007 he informed me I would receive no further bills. Despite
your promises, in July, 2008, 21 months later and less than 2
months before the trial he sent me another PAST DUE bill of
$23,637. It was then told to me that I should drop my
lawsuit so I would not incur any additional bills.
9.1 I was billed for thousands of dollars for so-called jury
preparation. There was no jury preparation.
Almost immediately after Sullivan was assigned to me, I stopped receiving replies to emails and calls. More importantly, Both Keefe and Sullivan indicated that communication and evidence was not lost. After 4 emails and many calls Sullivan finally admitted that they lost my witnesses notes taken during his 8 hour deposition. He had taken 2 hours of important hand-written notes of all of my cards which were supposed to be used at trial. In 2007, I met with Sullivan for what was supposed to be a trial. I noticed that all of my Prices Realized from my auction catalogs were missing. The catalogs by themselves were worthless without these at trial. He just said he was sure they were around. These were to be used in support of my valuations of property. My many emails to him reminded him of their importance. He ignored them. Apparently, he did not care, since he never used any catalogs as evidence at trial.
On the day of trial, Sulllivan told me that “we have decided to have a bench trial. I asked him who we was. He said the other attorney, the judge, and himself. I reminded him I had been promised a jury trail as indicated in my attachments to you. He declined my request. I then asked him which day my witness was coming. Sullivan said he decided to not use my witness. I asked why, and reminded him all the letters and emails proclaiming his importance to my case. He said, “You know your witness, and the judge won’t look favorably on it.” My witness took off from work two days, and Sullivan never even had the professionalism or courtesy to contact him.
During the trail Sullivan said I could not refer to my witness in any way. So I had to ignore the questions about my lack of witness. Sullivan also never mentioned the value of my property. He said he would do so at cross examination. At cross examination he said “no questions.” I was literally hung out to dry!
Immediately after the trial, I asked Sullivan how he could possibly not include bailment. He smiled and said “Oh well, we would have probably lost anyway.” I asked him for my catalogs, books and cards returned. He refused, and said he would return some of my property, but not all of it. I never did get everything returned, including some cards.
The judge was presented with very little information to give me a positive verdict. However, he did say he could not believe that I did not know someone, even a friend who had seen my cards. I had witness who Sullivan wouldn’t use because he lost the evidence. The judge also said he could not award me any damages since my counterclaim did not include bailment. Isn’t my attorney responsible for this neglect?
In all, his tactics at trial cannot be attributed to trial decisions, but instead to negligence, lack of due diligence Without my witness, without my evidence, and without bailment included in my counterclaim my trail was just a waste of time and money. Many important issues were just ignored at my trial. Essentially, I was just set up to lose my case. My efforts to seek justice have been compromised.
I am very disappointed and very angry about his “representation.” I believe he negligently abandoned my case, and has violated professional ethics, as well as professional malpractice. My efforts to seek justice were totally compromised. More importantly, I have suffered the loss of all of my property valued at $126,000. The end result was I was forced to accept at trial a box of worthless trimmed cards which were not mine. Instead of being valued at $126,815, The trimmed and damaged cards I was forced to accept after trial are worth $3-5,000 market value.
I do not believe that I lost my property due to solely to incompetence, and negligence. My important evidence was lost. Rather than returning my $19K already paid, and risking legal actions for malpractice, Sullivan proceed with my case which was not winnable. Hence, Sullivan is guilty of breach of contract, and unjust enrichment.
I hope that in the future your site will take the necessary action that prevents other clients being treated like this by Sullivan.
This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 09/19/2013 07:16 AM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/Stephen-Sullivan/Red-Bank-New-Jersey-07701/Stephen-Sullivan-unethical-lawyer-and-legal-malpractice-Red-Bank-New-Jersey-1085726. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year.
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