Toronto lawyer suing former associates

A lawyer is suing four former associates for providing “false and materially misleading statements to the police” resulting in criminal proceedings against him.

Frank Loreto is claiming at least $400,000 for malicious prosecution, $100,000 for special damages, and $200,000 for punitive damages, before interest.

His former employees Ian Little, Dianna Morello, Piera Segreto, and John Vettese worked at Loreto Little Morello as salaried associates. They left in June, 2008, following a furious row over a partnership deal, and established Little Morello Vettese Segreto.

Loreto sued them for breach of fiduciary duty, but the trial judge dismissed the case.

Loreto appealed, but later abandoned the appeal and brought motions to plead new causes of actions.

When he personally tried to serve the four former employees with documents, they applied for a peace bond, alleging he had engaged in threatening behaviour. After three days of evidence, Justice of the Peace Roberto Zito dismissed those allegations against Loreto on Nov. 10, 2011, finding that although he “was very loud and obnoxious in his behaviour, [he] never pronounced any direct threats, nor attempted to carry out any of the alleged threats.”

An order on Oct. 18, 2013, removing stays for past and intended actions, cleared the way for the malicious prosecution claim, which relates to the peace bond application.

The application was “just a ruse to portray me as a monster,” Loreto tells Legal Feeds.

He adds: “I’d like to just get on with my life. But it looks like these people have this incredible hate for me . . . I’ve spent over $500,000 on legal fees.”

The statement of claim says: “The defendants provided false and materially misleading statements to the police resulting in criminal proceedings being taken against the plaintiff, contrary to the Criminal Code.

“As a result of the aforesaid criminal proceedings, the plaintiff incurred out of pocket expenses and suffered damages.”

Loreto, whose firm is now called Loreto Romero LLP, has retained Derrick Fulton, of Toronto firm Steinberg Morton Hope and Israeli LLP.

 “It has been an incredibly harrowing road, but I’m fine now,” says Loreto, “I’ve learnt bigger isn’t better. The more people you have, the more egos [there are].”

In a written statement, Little said: “It is our position, given our knowledge of Mr. Loreto before and after 2008, that we had reasonable concern that he would cause harm to ourselves or our staff, or damage to our property.

“His claim is frivolous and vexatious and it will be vigorously defended.”

A separate malicious prosecution claim has been brought against a law clerk, Charlene Miranda, who left Loreto’s firm and joined Little Morello Vettese Segreto.

Miranda had also applied for a peace bond against Loreto, which was dismissed. In a written complaint to the Law Society of Upper Canada in 2008, she accused Loreto of being mentally incompetent, said he made “vulgar” comments about female staff and claimed he had been seen talking to a picture of his deceased Mother.

The LSUC found no evidence of incapacity during its investigation, a Feb. 23, 2009, letter stated.

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