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In re Forrest

Supreme Court of New Jersey
730 A.2d 340 (1999)


Facts

Mr. and Mrs. Fennimore were involved in a car accident. The Fennimores hired Robert Forrest (defendant) as their attorney to represent them in a suit against the driver of the other car. Mr. Fennimore claimed permanent injuries as a result of the accident. After the suit was filed, Mr. Fennimore died from issues unrelated to the car accident. Over the next nine months, Forrest concealed Mr. Fennimore’s death from opposing counsel, the arbitrator, and the court in various ways. He advised Mrs. Fennimore to conceal Mr. Fennimore’s death, maintained that Mr. Fennimore was “unavailable” during arbitration, and refused to respond to multiple requests for Mr. Fennimore to submit to a medical examination. During this period, Forrest continued to pursue the case and settlement discussions with opposing counsel while concealing Mr. Fennimore’s death from all parties and the court. Forrest finally revealed Mr. Fennimore’s death only after the date of a court-ordered medical examination for which Mr. Fennimore obviously failed to appear. The district ethics committee (plaintiff) found that Forrest had violated ethical rules in failing to disclose material facts to a tribunal, obstructing access to evidence, and engaging in fraudulent conduct.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Per curiam)

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