Lisa Zenzen Baker, 1961-2003


Friday, September 05, 2008

Penalties considered

Probe of attorneys' actions goes on

Posted Friday, Sept. 5, 2008

An investigation of a complaint that attorney Stephen Coffey tried to destroy a lawsuit pending against Samaritan Hospital over the death of Lisa Baker is continuing. A staffer at the Committee on Professional Standards said this week that the complaint, filed in April, is still active and that it should be completed "in a month or two."

The complaint alleges that Coffey, a partner at the Albany law firm of O'Connell & Aronowitz, called and offered to review the case, and later asked for and accepted $1,500 for an expert's evaluation of the medical records but never had the review done. It also alleges that Brendan Tully, another lawyer at the firm, stated in writing that the firm had complied with a judge's instructions to make a formal application for an extension of a stay of the lawsuit, and that they notify the defendant's attorneys that they had done so when he knew that no letters had been sent.

As a result, all three defendants filed motions asking the court to dismiss the case. The motions were denied after an affidavit was filed describing Coffey's actions, a move that Tully, hours before the deadline, allegedly advised against.

The complaint also alleges that O'Connell & Aronowitz, because it represents hospitals and organizations that represent hospitals, has a conflict of interest that meant it could not have taken the case against Samaritan, and that the intention of Coffey and Tully was to get the lawsuit thrown out for failure to proceed.
-David Baker