Monday 24 September, 2018
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SC suspends father-and-son lawyers for ambulance-chasing, failure to account for client’s award

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The Supreme Court (SC) has ordered the 2-year suspension of a father-and-son tandem of lawyers for ambulance-chasing and for failing to account for the monetary award of a client in a labor case.

In a recent 12-page en banc decision, the SC suspended Pedro Linsangan and Gerard Linsangan for violation of Rule 1.03, Rule 2.03, Canon 3, Canon 16, Rule 16.01 and Rule 16.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility.

The case arose from the complaint of Jerry Palencia, a seafarer who won US$95,000 in a settlement by his employers after he sued in connection with the serious injuries he suffered from a fall inside the Cyprus-flagged M/T Panos G.

The Linsangans only gave him US$20,756.05, after deducting their 35% share, a separate share for their Singaporean collaborating counsels belonging to Gurbani and Co. law firm, and the payments for retired Justice Emilio Gancayco and a Cyprus law firm for their written opinions.

Palencia refused to accept the amount, contested the expenses, and disputed the separate computation of the Linsangans and the Singaporean counsels’ fees when the agreement provided for them to take a combined 35% share.

The SC said the Linsangans committed malpractice from the onset when they approached Palencia several times while he was confined in the Manila Doctors Hospital to convince him to avail of their law firm’s services.

“A lawyer in making known his legal services must do so in a dignified manner. They are prohibited from soliciting cases for the purpose of gain, either personally or through paid agents or brokers… Corollary to this duty is for lawyers not to encourage any suit or proceeding for any corrupt motive or interest,” read the decision.

The SC added that the Linsangans should not have forcibly deducted the fees from Palencia’s monetary award, as they could have gone to court instead to settle the dispute.

Instead of accounting for Palencia’s money, the Linsangans even kept it inside their law firm’s vault.

“It is apparent from the foregoing that respondents failed to handle their client’s money with great degree of fidelity. Respondents also showed their lack of good faith when they appropriated for themselves more than what is allowed under their contract,” read the decision.

Associate Justice Presbitero Velasco, Jr., was the lone dissenter in the per curiam decision.

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