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In the Matter of Anonymous

Supreme Court of Indiana
655 N.E. 2d 67 (1995)


Facts

An attorney (Anonymous) (defendant) worked at a law firm that was retained by a company to defend the company against grievances filed by a labor union. The union alleged that the company failed to contribute funds required by a collective-bargaining agreement. The company retained Anonymous to represent it in grievance proceedings. The company and the union agreed that the union trustee and financial secretary of the union were key witnesses. The union trustee was later discharged, because the union believed he provided information adverse to the union’s position in the grievance proceedings. The trustee met with an attorney at Anonymous’s firm to discuss a potential wrongful-discharge suit against the union. The firm directed the case to Anonymous, who specialized in labor cases. Anonymous met with the trustee, discussed the grievance proceedings, the trustee’s termination, and the possibility of suing the union for wrongful termination. The firm opened a case file for the trustee. Anonymous met with the trustee two more times and discussed a potential contingency-fee arrangement with him. Anonymous advised the trustee that he had a strong case. The trustee wrote at least five letters to Anonymous, and the letters were maintained in the trustee’s client file at the firm. Anonymous and the trustee never entered into a formal attorney-client agreement. Anonymous later filed suit on behalf of the company against the trustee and others. In a disciplinary hearing alleging that Anonymous violated conflict-of_interest rules by representing multiple clients in the same matter without consent, the hearing officer found that Anonymous and the trustee formed an attorney-client relationship and that Anonymous violated the conflict-of-interest rules. The hearing officer recommended a private reprimand for Anonymous. Both parties appealed.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Per Curiam)

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  • A "yes" or "no" answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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