Judge tosses out lawyer’s ‘unmeritorious’ claims against colleagues

A Superior Court judge has thrown out a Weston, Ont., lawyer’s claim against several other lawyers and a Law Society of Upper Canada bencher on the basis that it is “utterly unmeritorious.”

Justice Deena Baltman said lawyer Robert Nobili’s claims against the new lawyer of his former clients and several others were “a complete waste of time and resources for both the court and numerous defence counsel involved.”

Nobili’s former clients in a personal injury matter fired him after their case was dismissed over administrative delays in filing documents. Later, they retained Lerners LLP lawyer Andrew Murray, who issued a solicitor’s negligence claim against Nobili on the clients’ behalf.

“Despite the claim against him, Nobili refused to report his exposure to his insurer, LawPRO. Instead he insisted that Murray should try to set aside the administrative dismissal,” Baltman said.

The law society was notified of the matter. In May 2011, law society bencher Paul Schabas reported a claim to LawPRO about Nobili’s case. Shortly after, LawPro president and CEO Kathleen Waters issued a report on the claim.

Since then, Nobili has sued Murray, Schabas, and Waters. He also sued Murray’s colleagues for libel based on allegations that are, according to Baltman, “patently ridiculous and incapable of proof.”

Nobili claimed Murray breached a solicitor’s undertaking to protect the plaintiff’s contingency fee account although, according to the judge, there had been no settlement or payment to the plaintiffs.

“Even if there was an undertaking to protect the plaintiff’s account there would be no fees payable to the plaintiff, and therefore no damages have resulted from the alleged breach of the undertaking,” Baltman said.

The claims against Waters and Schabas related to breaches of fiduciary duty. But those claims also failed after Baltman found there wasn’t a proof of fiduciary duty, “much less the breach of any such duty.”

Baltman, who ordered a total of almost $50,000 in costs against Nobili, also admonished the lawyer for a letter he sent to Murray’s colleagues at Lerners. Nobili sued the Lerners lawyers for distributing the letter despite a header that said, “Private and Confidential of the Highest Order - Without Prejudice,” according to his claim.

But said Baltman: “In fact, the letter contained no ‘without prejudice’ information and was instead a disgraceful and insulting rant that any lawyer should be ashamed to put his name to.”

Murray told Legal Feeds the letter was “a rambling” that contained expletives as well as “snippets of songs.”

“It didn’t make any sense and yet there were snippets of things in it that were the product of an agile mind,” he said. “There was a threatening undertone to it. He said, ‘I shit on you. I shat on you a thousand times,’ just things like that.”

Murray said he cannot discuss anything else about the matter as the deadline to appeal Baltman’s decision has not yet passed. He did note, however, that once, Nobili shoved him and spat in his face in a courtroom just after the judge walked out. Murray did not pursue assault charges.

Nobili, who is administratively suspended from practising law, told Legal Feeds in an e-mail he will appeal Baltman’s decision.

“No comment as the matters remain before the courts,” Nobili said. “I intend to appeal the ruling.”

According to a law society notice of application, Nobili is currently going through a capacity hearing. The law society’s tribunal office told Legal Feeds a finding of incapacity was made on Oct. 28 but the endorsement is not specific about what kind of incapacity the panel found.

The law society’s notice of application, filed last year, sought a determination on whether, “by reason of physical or mental illness, other infirmity or addiction to or excessive use of alcohol or drugs,” Nobili is incapable of meeting his obligations as a lawyer.

Hearing dates are scheduled for later this month and early next year at the LSUC to hear submissions on remaining issues.

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