[Resolved] Keefe Bartels / Unethical conduct and malpractice
973 Circle Drive
Baltimore, MD 21227
Would you want this firm to represent you? I invite anyone to contact me for additional information.
BEWARE OF KEEFE BARTELS
(John Keefe, Sr., John Keefe, Jr., Stephen Sullivan, Patrick Bartels)
Anybody considering retaining Keefe Bartels should first read the following:
I was looking for an honest attorney to represent me regarding consumer fraud. I was a victim of consumer fraud. The company/person refused to return my property to me, and they sued me for $7, 500. I initially hired two attorneys, both of whom took my retainer and did nothing. Both times I found out from the court I was represented pro se. The second attorney did not even show up for a hearing, and a judgment was entered against me for the $7, 500. I hired Keefe/Bartels to vacate the judgment, and to counterclaim for the value of my property. I had a witness who was deposed for 9 hours. The firm switched lawyers on me 3 times, and in the transition lost important evidence, both from my witness, and also important prices realized related to the valuation of my property. I contacted Patrick Bartels when I was told Lori Dvorak no longer was employed by him. He said he would call me the following day. I never heard from him again.
Stephen Sullivan was the third lawyer assigned to represent me by Keefe Bartels. Both he and John Keefe, Jr. told me Lori Dvorak abandoned both me and the firm without any notice. I was not given my legal right to have Lori continue her representation should I have chosen. I only recently learned that Lori was literally locked out of the firm.. They then tried to get me to simply drop my case.
Keefe switched lawyers on me 3 times. He lost important evidence from my witness, and also regarding my valuations. The day of trial I was refused a jury trial as promised. The day of trial I was told they would not use my witness "because you know your witness and the judge will look unfavorable on it." I could not win my case without any witness. The judge said I should have had a witness. He said the Court could not award damages since my claim did not include bailment. His counterclaim was worthless. I lost $126, 000 in property and I was charged $19, 000 to get a $7, 500 judgment vacated, in addition to thousands of dollars in other expenses.
I feel Sullivan/Keefe Bartels either never cared about winning my case, or intentionally lost it rather than returning my fees to me, and subjecting themselves to immediate malpractice claims.
I believe Keefe Bartels are guilty of unjust enrichment, as well as breach of contract. His counterclaim was worthless. They were supposed to counterclaim at treble damages. According to the Judge, the Court could not award any damages since my counterclaim neglected to include bailment, and I should have presented a witness.
I note the following areas of ethics violations and malpractice by Keefe and his firm:
1. Failure to allege bailment which totally eliminated any chance of obtaining damages in my counterclaim.
1.1 The judge commented that he could not even consider
damages since he and his firm had not addressed bailment.
2. Failure to use my expert and fact witness who saw the condition of my cards before they were sent to Lifson.
2.1 The judge commented that this witness was necessary.
2.2 Both Weisslitz and Dvorak strongly indicated the necessity
of using my witness. Dvorak was particularly pleased at my
witnesses eight hour deposition. Keefe and Sullivan later
reaffirmed this by calls and emails, all of which were
duplication of effort.
3. Losing evidence.
3.1 I gave his firm several irreplaceable catalogs with prices realized, and other documents that were crucial to my case. They lost them.
3.2 His firm lost my witnesses notes taken during his deposition.
4. I went through at least three lawyers with this firm, each of whom had to be brought up to speed on my case. This leads me to conclude that you placed my case at the bottom of the barrel.
4.1 Abandonment of a client’s matter and lack of due diligence.
4.2 Payment for duplication of effort by various attorneys
5. Improper direct examination by Sullivan.
5.1 He failed to ask me about how I determined the condition and value of my cards at the trial.
5.2 There was no proper addressing at trial of the dozens of other cards which were trimmed and substituted. These were not indicated in his appraisal report(s) of my cards, the second of which was presented to the court.
5.3 No redirect or cross examination at trial where he promised to address the crucial issue of trimmed/replaced cards.
5.4 Sullivan refused to use me as expert witness for my own property.
6. Improper Cross examination of Lifson.
6.1 Failure to refer to evidence that would have contradicted his testimony, including but not limited to his solicitation of my high quality, high-grade cards, and the inconsistency of his communications to me.
6.2 Lifson’s letters to the Office of the Attorney General were never addressed. Lifson clearly lied, and clearly misrepresented the value of my high-grade cards.
6.3 Sullivan never addressed grading standards, and the importance of trimmed cards.
7. Lack of communications on a consistent basis as indicated by my
letters and emails of 9/18/06, 12/18/06, 1/15/06, 7/23/07, 8/27/07, etc.
8. Up until the very day of trial I was promised a jury trial. This
was also indicated in my counterclaim. Instead, I was told on the
at trial that we were having a bench trial because that’s what
the Court and the other attorney wanted.
9. My last bill was paid in September, 2006. This bill continues to
indicate my sports memorabilia/collectibles as postcards.
I am very dissatisfied with the services provided by John Keefe and his lawyers in my case. This firm negligently handled my case, and I believe intentionally sabotaged my case rather than returning my monies paid. Stephen Sullivan was the third lawyer assigned to represent me by Keefe Bartels. Both he and John Keefe, Jr. told me Lori Dvorak abandoned both me and the firm without any notice. I was not given my legal right to have Lori continue her representation should I have chosen. I only recently learned that Lori was literally locked out of the firm. I asked for my money to be returned. Keefe refused. They then tried to get me to simply drop my case. Again, I asked for my money returned and reminded him that his firm lost evidence. They declined. In addition, I paid at least $2, 400 in 2006 which was cashed by Keefe, and I was never credited.
Almost immediately after Sullivan was assigned to me, I stopped receiving replies to emails and calls. More importantly, Both Keefe and Sullivan indicated that communication and evidence was lost. After 4 emails and many calls Sullivan finally admitted that they lost my witnesses notes taken during his 8 hour deposition. He had taken 2 hours of important hand-written notes of all of my cards which were supposed to be used at trial. In 2007, I met with Sullivan for what was supposed to be a trial. I noticed that all of my Prices Realized from my auction catalogs were missing. The catalogs by themselves were worthless without these at trial. He just said he was sure they were around. These were to be used in support of my valuations of property. My many emails to him reminded him of their importance. He ignored them. Apparently, he did not care, since he never intended to use any catalogs or anything else as evidence at trial.
On the day of trial, Sullivan told me that “we have decided to have a bench trial. I asked him who “we” was. He said the other attorney, the judge, and himself. I reminded him I had been promised a jury trail as indicated in my attachments to you. He refused my request. I then asked him which day my witness was coming. Sullivan said he decided to not use my witness. I asked why, and reminded him all the letters and emails indicating his importance to my case. He said, “You know your witness, and the judge won’t look favorably on it.” My witness took off from work two days, and Sullivan never even had the professionalism nor the courtesy to contact him.
Neither my witness, nor any of his statements were used at trial, despite the firm’s insistence that his appearance was crucial to my success. During my trial, Sullivan said I could not refer to my witness, nor to the value of my cards. I was badgered by the opposing attorney about the lack of my witness. Sullivan also never mentioned the value of my property. He said he would do so at cross examination. At cross examination he said “no questions.” I was literally hung out to dry!
At the conclusion of the trial, the judge specifically stated that I should have had a witness, even if he saw the cards a year or so before. I provided this witness. Sullivan would not use him. The judge also said that bailment was not indicated on my claim, so he could not even consider damages. Clearly, this was an instrumental part of my claim. My counterclaim was not valid. Isn’t my attorney responsible for this neglect?
Immediately after the trial, I asked Sullivan how he could possibly not include bailment. He smiled and said “Oh well, we would have probably lost anyway.” I asked him for my catalogs, books and cards returned. He refused, and said he would return some of my property, but not all of it. I never did get everything returned, including some cards.
The judge was presented with very little information to give me a positive verdict. I had witness who Sullivan wouldn’t use because he lost the evidence. The judge also said he could not award me any damages since my counterclaim did not include bailment.
In all, Sullivan’s tactics at trial cannot be attributed to trial decisions, but instead to negligence, and lack of due diligence. Without my witness, without my evidence, and without bailment included in my counterclaim my trail was just a waste of my time and money. All of the important issues were just ignored at my trial. Essentially, I was just set up to lose my case.
I am very disappointed and very angry about Keefe’s representation. I believe he negligently abandoned my case, and he has violated professional ethics, as well as professional malpractice standards. My efforts to seek justice were totally compromised. More importantly, I have suffered the loss of all of my property valued at $126, 000. The end result was I was forced to accept at trial a box of worthless trimmed cards which were not mine. Instead of being valued at $126, 815, the trimmed and damaged cards I was forced to accept after trial are worth $3-5, 000 market value.
Keefe Bartels admitted that they lost evidence. Rather than return my $18K paid, and refer me to another attorney, and risk legal actions for malpractice, they chose to try my case without evidence. They knew they could not win my case. He is guilty of unjust enrichment, as well as breach of contract.
His actions have cost me over $150, 000 in loss of property, legal fees, and travel and other expenses.
The following is a letter sent to Keefe by an attorney in my behalf. Keefe once again ignored all attempts in settlement.
BY REGULAR US MAIL
Keefe Bartels, LLC
John Keefe, Jr., Esq.
57 Paterson St.
New Brunswick, NJ 08901
Re: Anthony Raymond
Dear Mr. John Keefe, Jr.,
Please be advised that this office has been retained to represent Anthony Raymond. As you will recall, Mr. Raymond was a client of your law firm from December 2005 through September of 2008. The purpose of this letter is to begin discussions with you about your past representation of Mr. Raymond and the monetary damage that representation has caused my client.
To begin, I will start with a brief timeline of events for your reference to refresh your memory on the events that led us to this point. In 2005, Anthony Raymond sent a number of baseball cards valued at approximately $126, 000.00 to Robert Edwards Auctions (REA). After REA had possession of the cards for approximately four months, Mr. Raymond asked for the cards back with no success. Subsequently, REA sued him for storage fees, insurance fees and consignment fees. On or around December of 2005, Mr. Raymond came to your firm after already having a default judgment entered against him for $7, 500.00. After speaking with John Keefe Jr., Mr. Raymond was very confident with your firm and hired you in order to assist him in having the default judgment vacated, as well as to file a counterclaim against REA for the value of his lost/stolen property.
For the first few months with the firm, Michael Weisslitz worked on Mr. Raymond’s case before Lori Dvorak took over and became the primary attorney on the case. Finally Mr. Raymond worked with Mr. Stephen Sullivan. Shuffling between so many attorneys was extremely frustrating for Mr. Raymond as he had to continually update new attorneys about his case. Even more frustrating was that the attorneys on the case failed to keep Mr. Raymond up to date on his case and how it was being handled throughout the entire process. Mr. Raymond’s phone calls and e-mails would often go weeks or more without being answered by any one of these attorneys working on the case. To illustrate this further, on December 14, 2006, Mr. Raymond called your office because Lori Dvorak, who had been dealing with the case, had been out of contact for over two months. Much to Mr. Raymond’s surprise, Ms. Dvorak hadn’t
been at the firm since October of 2006. Patrick Bartels informed Mr. Raymond that he would be contacted by another attorney within 5 days. However, after waiting until January, Mr. Raymond reached out to the firm only to be told someone would be in touch by within a few days, which again did not happen. On July 3, 2007 and July 6, 2007 Mr. Raymond called the office and left messages. After receiving absolutely no response, on July 23, 2007 Mr. Raymond e-mailed Mr. Keefe requesting an update on his case and was told Mr. Sullivan would be in touch. Mr. Raymond was unable to speak to him until August. During that conversation Mr. Sullivan promised to send Mr. Raymond a number of documents, which did not happen. These are just a few of many instances where your firm neglected Mr. Raymond’s requests and neglected to keep him up to date on his case status.
After numerous communication issues and an $18, 000.00 bill, Mr. Raymond let you know about his concerns and was informed that there would be no further charges. Fastforward twenty-two months (two months before trial), and Mr. Raymond was given another bill for $22, 356.00 while also being told that simply dropping the case might be his best option. Only after incurring over $40, 000.00 in legal fees did any attorney at your firm suggest that Mr. Raymond simply drop the case. When Mr. Raymond decided that he still wanted to go to trial, both Mr. Keefe and Mr. Sullivan indicated that evidence Mr. Raymond had given the firm had been lost, including witness notes taken during a deposition and all of the Catalogs of Prices Realized. These catalogs were vital pieces of evidence that would have been used to put a value on the property that Mr. Raymond had lost.
Throughout the course of his representation, Mr. Raymond was told that he would have a jury trial. He was never given any reason to believe otherwise, and his bills even indicated that he was being charged for jury trial preparation. It was not until the day of trial that Mr. Sullivan informed Mr. Raymond that he would be having a bench trial. This decision was made with no discussion or consultation with Mr. Raymond. At trial, Mr. Sullivan never once indicated bailment as part of Mr. Raymond’s claim against REA. Mr. Sullivan simply chose not to call the only witness besides Mr. Raymond who could testify to the value and condition of the baseball cards, which were vital elements of Mr. Raymond’s claim. Tom Coleman was someone who had personally viewed and evaluated each of Mr. Raymond’s cards. Mr. Coleman was deposed and was available to testify at trial. Mr. Coleman would have and should have played an essential role in Mr. Raymond’s trial because his testimony would have been extremely helpful in explaining the condition and value of Mr. Raymond’s cards before they were ever sent to REA, yet for some inexplicable reason, Mr. Sullivan did not use this witness.
Your representation of Mr. Raymond during the course of the attorney-client
relationship, and specifically at trial, was handled in a negligent matter. It is our belief that your firm’s representation of Mr. Raymond was inadequate for a number of reasons including but not limited to: 1) a lack of communication with the client, 2) inadequate legal work, and 3) improper billing, all of which were outlined above. Had all of the evidence been properly addressed at the trial stage and had proper witnesses actually been used, there is a high probability that Mr. Raymond would have been successful on his underlying claim. Put simply, the legal work that was done at Mr. Raymond’s trial amounts to professional negligence.
Furthermore, the billing in this case borders on ridiculous. Mr. Raymond received a $59, 000.00 bill, and the only benefit he saw was having a default judgment against him opened. He was charged over and over for new lawyers having to spend time familiarizing themselves with his case. Mr. Raymond was charged for jury trial preparation despite not having a jury trial. After Mr. Raymond was charged and paid an $18, 000.00 bill, he was assured that he would incur no further charges and 22 months later he received a bill for $22, 356.00.
Mr. Raymond has suffered financially because of the lack of competent representation at trial. Due to your law firm’s negligent representation of Mr. Raymond, Mr. Raymond has suffered great financial loss both because of the outrageous bills from your firm, and because his claim for the value of lost property was dismissed with prejudice. This type of reprehensible legal representation is inexcusable and cannot be ignored.
We hereby demand that your firm fully refund Mr. Raymond the $18, 000.00 he paid to your firm, withdraw the judgment for $23, 000.00 in NJ against him, reimburse him for at least part of the loss of the value of his property, and return any and all property of Mr. Raymond that you have in your possession. In exchange for this, Mr. Raymond is willing to sign a release of all legal malpractice claims against your firm. If you are not willing to do so, we will be filing a legal malpractice claim against Keefe Bartels in excess of $150, 000.00. Furthermore, Mr. Raymond has insisted that if this claim is not settled, he will file complaints with the Disciplinary Board against your firm and all of the specific lawyers involved in his representation.
Please contact me at the above number upon receipt of this letter so that we can begin discussions. I very much look forward to speaking with you. Thank you.
Anthony Raymond 973 Circle Drive Baltimore, MD 21227 410-247-0837 Keefe Bartels has resolved any and all issues between us to my complete and utter satisfaction. I hereby retract everything I have posted online about the law firm of Keefe Bartels LLP, and its individual attorneys, employees and principals. Tony Raymond