Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

BABIGIAN v. ASS'N

January 11, 1990

JOHN BABIGIAN, PLAINTIFF,
v.
THE ASSOCIATION OF THE BAR OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK, JOHN BONOMI, ELEANOR PIEL, "NERVOUS NELLIE" DOE, "HORNY HELEN" DOE, STANLEY ARKIN, WILLIAM HELLERSTEIN, ROBERT MCGUIRE, PATRICK WALL, MARTIN FOGELMAN, POWELL PIERPONT, NINA CAMERON, FRANCIS T. MURPHY, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS CHIEF JUSTICE OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK: FIRST DEPARTMENT, APPELLATE DIVISION OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK; FIRST DEPARTMENT, MICHAEL GENTILE, AS CHIEF COUNSEL OF THE DEPARTMENTAL DISCIPLINARY COMMITTEE OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION: FIRST DEPARTMENT, HAROLD J. REYNOLDS, CLERK OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION: FIRST DEPARTMENT, THE FLORIDA BAR, NORMAN FAULKNER, E. EARLE ZEHMER, ADLAI HARDIN, JR., JOSEPH W. BELLACOSA, RICHARD WALLACH, STEPHEN KAYE, JEFFREY K. BRINCK, ALVIN SCHULMAN, SETH ROSNER, JONATHAN H. CHURCHILL, JAMES R. HAWKINS, WILLIAM J. MANNING, MEREDITH M. BROWN, ROBERT D. SACK, FREDERICK C. CARVER, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Cannella, District Judge.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Defendants' motions to dismiss are granted. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6).

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff, an attorney appearing pro se, brings the instant action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, seeking damages and various forms of declaratory and injunctive relief for alleged violations of his constitutional rights. In addition, plaintiff seeks damages and injunctive relief for various state common law and statutory violations. Plaintiff's allegations all arise from attorney disciplinary proceedings which occurred between 1973 and 1975. Plaintiff has also filed a Supplemental Complaint which apparently involves events occurring after 1975.

Defendants Association of the Bar of the City of New York ["Association of the Bar"], John Bonomi, former General Counsel to the Committee on Grievances of the Association of the Bar, Robert McGuire, Patrick Wall, Adlai Hardin, Jr., Joseph W. Bellacosa, Richard W. Wallach, Stephen Kaye, Jeffrey K. Brinck, Alvin Schulman, Seth Rosner, Jonathan H. Churchill, William J. Manning, Meredith M. Brown, Robert D. Sack, and Fredrick C. Carver, former members of the Committee on Professional Ethics of the Association of the Bar [the "Ethics Committee"], and Stanley Arkin, William Hellerstein, Powell Pierpont, Martin Fogelman, Robert McGuire, Eleanor Piel, Patrick Wall and Nina Cameron, former members of the Committee on Grievances of the Association of the Bar [the "Grievance Committee"] [all of the aforementioned defendants collectively referred to as the "Bar Association defendants"], now move to dismiss on the following grounds: (1) plaintiff's claims are barred by the applicable statutes of limitation; (2) the defendants are protected from all of plaintiff's claims for damages by absolute immunity; (3) plaintiff has failed to state facts which constitute a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 or under any of the state law claims alleged; and (4) plaintiff's complaint violates the pleading requirements of Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

In addition, defendants Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of the State of New York, First Department ["First Department"], Hon. Francis T. Murphy, Presiding Justice, Michael Gentile and Harold J. Reynolds [collectively, the "State defendants"] move to dismiss the complaint on the grounds that, inter alia, plaintiff's claims for declaratory relief are barred by the applicable statute of limitations. State defendants also move, on various grounds, to dismiss plaintiff's Supplemental Complaint. Finally, defendants the Florida Bar, Norman Faulkner and E. Earle Zehmer [the "Florida Bar defendants"] move to dismiss, inter alia, on the ground that the Court lacks personal jurisdiction.

FACTS

In 1965 plaintiff organized Attorneys' Research, Inc. ["Research, Inc."], a business designed to provide legal research to attorneys in all jurisdictions. Complaint, ¶ 4. Plaintiff advertised Research, Inc. in the New York Law Journal and, in addition, mailed advertisements directly to attorneys. Complaint, ¶¶ 10, 11.

In September 1965, the Association of the Bar received a complaint about Research, Inc. from the Hawaiian Bar Association. Complaint, ¶ 5. At the suggestion of the Executive Director of the Association of the Bar, plaintiff submitted the question of the propriety of the activity of Research, Inc. to the Association's Ethics Committee for an opinion. On March 22, 1966, the Ethics Committee sent plaintiff an opinion letter stating that while it was not improper for Research, Inc. to perform legal research as long as it was for other attorneys, the company's advertising brochure did not in all respects comply with the requirements of the Canons of Professional Ethics concerning advertising. Complaint, ¶ 7.

In April 1972, defendant John Bonomi, then Chief Counsel to the Grievance Committee, received another complaint concerning advertising by Research, Inc. from an American lawyer living in London. Complaint, ¶ 17. Bonomi referred the matter to the Ethics Committee, asking for an opinion on the propriety of plaintiff's advertising. In March 1973, the Ethics Committee sent Bonomi an opinion letter [the "Ethics Opinion"] which concluded that plaintiff had violated certain provisions of the Code of Professional Responsibility and that the activities of Research, Inc. may constitute the unauthorized practice of law. Complaint, ¶ 21. After receiving the Ethics Opinion, Bonomi issued an admonitory letter to plaintiff dated November 7, 1973. Complaint, ¶ 34. The admonitory letter notified plaintiff of the complaint by the attorney in London and advised plaintiff that his solicitation letters and the New York Law Journal advertisement violated the standards set out in the Code of Professional Responsibility.

In April 1974, the Grievance Committee received yet another complaint concerning plaintiff's advertising, this time from defendant the Florida Bar. Complaint, ¶ 40. Morris Gutt, Associate Counsel to the Committee on Grievances of the Association of the Bar, notified plaintiff by letter of the complaint and requested that plaintiff submit a statement setting forth his position. Plaintiff responded with a brief letter stating that it was his belief that the advertisements were proper. Thereafter, Gutt asked that plaintiff supply the Grievance Committee with further information. Plaintiff requested a hearing and refused to supply the information sought by the Grievance Committee. Complaint, ¶¶ 53, 55.

Subsequently, the Grievance Committee, by subpoena, directed Research, Inc. to produce the information that had been previously requested. Complaint, ¶ 65. In addition, Gutt drafted an internal hearing memorandum [the "Hearing Memorandum"] to prepare the members of the Grievance Committee for the upcoming hearing. Complaint, ¶ 74. The hearing plaintiff had requested began on November 13, 1974, and continued on December 4, 1974 and January 29, 1975. Complaint, ¶¶ 83, 84, 98, 107. Plaintiff alleges that he testified at the hearings, but that he was refused any opportunity to present his case or rebut the accusations made by the Grievance Committee. Complaint, ¶¶ 86, 87, 109. Plaintiff also alleges that the hearing transcript was tampered with. Complaint, ¶ 97.

Prior to the final hearing on January 29, 1975, plaintiff sought to enjoin the disciplinary proceedings by filing a federal action entitled Attorneys' Research, Inc. and John Babigian v. Association of the Bar of the City of New York, 75 Civ. 359 (MEL). Complaint, ¶¶ 57, 105. The action was subsequently dismissed based on the abstention doctrine.

The investigation was finally closed when the Grievance Committee received from the County Lawyers Association's Committee on Unlawful Practice of Law a notice that the latter had reached an agreement with plaintiff concerning the practices of Research, Inc. Complaint, ΒΆ 118. Bonomi notified plaintiff that the Grievance ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.