12:24, January 03 172 0 abajournal.com

2019-01-03 12:24:06
Lawyer who ‘won’t take no for an answer’ is suspended for two years

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A Pennsylvania lawyer who filed at least 49 appeals for a client in a condo dispute has been suspended after a disciplinary board found that he abused the court system, demonstrating “excessive and misplaced zeal.”

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court suspended Thomas Peter Gannon of Delaware County for two years, the Legal Intelligencer reports. Gannon is a former state representative who once served as chairman of the state House’s Judiciary Committee.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s disciplinary board had recommended a five-year suspension. Its report said Gannon had persisted with “multiple baseless and frivolous filings despite numerous warnings from judges at all levels.”

Gannon relitigated issues determined in prior litigation, demonstrating an “inability to grasp the concept of res judicata,” the disciplinary board report said.

Gannon filed the appeals on behalf of a client who wanted to recover nearly $3,600 to repair a defective steel beam in the garage of his townhouse. A judge had entered a judgment of $8,500 for the Riverwatch Condominium Owners Association on its counterclaim that contended Gannon’s client wasn’t allowing a contractor access to his home to make the repairs.

The condo association’s court fees stemming from Gannon’s court filings amount to $87,000, according to the disciplinary board report.

Gannon’s client, a 70-year-old mechanic, had testified at Gannon’s disciplinary hearing that he authorized Gannon to run his claims “up the ladder” and “shoot for the stars.” The client also said he fixed tires for a living and “I don’t know nothing about this law situation.”

The judge who ruled for the condo association, Charles Burr, had testified that Gannon’s courtroom demeanor was “exemplary,” but he had been “stubbornly disobedient to most court orders” and “won’t take no for an answer.”

Gannon had missed a deadline to file post-trial motions by one day, but he refused to accept that his court filing was untimely, the disciplinary board report said. Despite being sanctioned with attorney fees numerous times, Gannon “continued to barrage the courts with meritless claims and failed to comply with contempt orders,” the report said.

After the Pennsylvania Supreme Court barred Gannon from further court filings in the condo dispute, Gannon filed a civil rights suit in federal court against the condo and the judge who ruled against him. A federal judge tossed the suit, and Gannon filed an unsuccessful appeal.

The review board noted that Gannon has practiced law in the state since 1976 and has no record of discipline.

Gannon told the Legal Intelligencer that he disagrees with the suspension order and he plans to seek reconsideration. He also said Burr did not have jurisdiction over the case, which was an appeal of an arbitration award in favor of Gannon’s client. The arbitrator had not decided the condo association’s counterclaim.