DAVID RATNER, shameless lawyer, Morelli Alters Ratner may have dug himself in deep hole with a frivolous lawsuit against Lapolla Industries, faces large court sanctions
DAVID RATNER, FRAUD LAWYER IN TROUBLE, AGAIN
DAVID RATNER, the notorious ambulance chaser lawyer of the scandal ridden, near bankrupt Morelli Alters Ratner law firm is in trouble again. Like it’s not enough being chased by City National Bank for defrauding at least 4 different lenders out of millions of dollars in classic loan fraud, the 4 foot tall midget lawyer David Ratner just dug himself in anther hole by seriously antagnizing a federal court judge in New York’s Eastern District.
The lawsuit against Lapolla Industries, a Texas-based manufacturer of spray polyurethane foam (SPF) really stunk. And the frivolous lawsuit could result in $800,000 worth of monetary sanctions imposed on the New York-based Morelli, Alters, Ratner law firm.
The latest development in the frivolous product liability case by the fraudulent lawyers Morelli Alters Ratner is here: LAWYER DAVID RATNER, BENEDICT MORELLI, FRAUD, COURT SANCTIONS
The legal battle began in 2012 with a complaint by New York couple Neil and Kristine Markey, who used the Lapolla product in their home. Originally, the Markeys only claimed property damage stemmed from its use, but attorneys for Lapolla have argued the Markeys were encouraged by their shady lawyers at Morelli Alters Ratner to balloon the original case into a personal injury claim that then morphed into a multi-district, class action suit intended to line the Markey’s lawyer’s pockets.
DAVID RATNER, FRAUD AFTER FRAUD, Lapolla Industries alleges
Lapolla advanced this contention in a post hearing brief in support of a motion for sanctions. The company claims that the time, effort and money spent to fight the frivolous claim significantly hurt the company. Furthermore, Lapolla said its business has been financially distressed and its reputation tarnished by the “fiasco” needlessly created by the Markey’s lawsuit through Morelli Alters Ratner.
These accusations should be making David Ratner — a partner in the firm and lead counsel on the case — sweat under his expensive dress shirt. If a judge finds the lawsuit was brought in bad faith, Morelli Alters Ratner can be held responsible for costs incurred by Lapolla during the extended legal fight.
In 2014, a judge warned the Markeys and their then-counsel that if the plaintiffs were found to have not brought the case in good faith, the court was prepared to impose appropriate sanctions, including monetary fines. David Ratner has admitted the suit was dropped based solely on the firm’s self-interest. Lawyers for Lapolla have argued its claim for sanctions was clearly established during three days of evidentiary hearings and testimony. Case law dictates that compensation can result when an attorney’s actions are so completely without merit as to require the conclusion that they must have been undertaken for some improper purpose.
In his defense, Ratner told the court the decision to end the suit was made based on the firm’s decision to not “throw good money after bad.” Lapolla has argued that the Markey’s lawyers, without their knowledge, consent or authority, prepared and filed the frivolous personal injury claim in a brazen and greedy attempt to cast their lawsuit into a larger and more profitable class action lawsuit.
Morelli Alters Ratner’s underhanded actions also included continually clouding the issues of the personal injury claim by not releasing medical records that showed no injury to either Markey and waiting until the eve of trial before making a jury demand. This failure to comply with discovery obligations and not promptly presenting all evidence also rises to the level of bad faith, Lapolla argued.
Though examinations by a neurologist and internist showed no correlation between Kristine Markey’s alleged injuries and Lapolla’s SPF, Ratner has admitted that personal injury claims were added “with the hope of achieving a multi-district lawsuit,” and therefore a potentially more-profitable award. Despite the evidence to the contrary .Ratner also said “to prove causation in a personal injury case you have to have the medical connection.”
Morelli Alters Ratner told the Markeys its original claim only sought medical monitoring and property damages claims. Though this was the couple’s intent, Ratner still filed the complaint alleging personal injuries for both of the Markeys. Ratner himself admits to reviewing the complaint, which was signed by another attorney with the firm. He’s since confessed that Morelli Alters Ratner’s decision to withdraw the lawsuit was made because the firm wanted to devote time to other clients. Cynically, it was likely withdrawn because the big payday that was envisioned became less likely. Ratner said it was dropped because Morelli Alters Ratners decided that “spending my firm’s resources in pursuit of this litigation when we represent hundreds of other clients who could also use our resources” was not in their best interest.
The brief also argues that Morelli Alters Ratner, with either intent or gross neglect, failed to produce key documents and communications related to an environmental report done at the Markey’s home by Insight Environmental, a property inspection company. In addition, Lapolla claims Morelli Alters Ratner never informed the Markeys they were required to gather e-mails exchanged with the air testing professional, George Maul. The original Maul report found the “odor present appears to be a nuisance odor and should not negatively impact the health of anyone occupying the area.”
Lapolla attorneys further argue that the Markeys intentionally avoided handing over the original version of the Maul report. It was produced on-request of subpoena, but Morelli Alters Ratner attorneys never followed up with the Markeys regarding its existence or why it was not previously made available. This all occurred despite Ratner’s admission that it is his duty to go over case documents to “review them, stop and look at them, and follow up with the client to determine if there were additional documentation that had not been produced.”
All this legal wrangling took up valuable court time and has nearly amounted to a wasted small forest in papers and briefs going back and forth. Not only did Ratner frivolously file personal injury claims on the Markeys behalf, the suit was also greedily glommed onto in hopes of making it much larger and more profitable. Many firms like Morelli Alters Ratner bring dubious suits to force a company to pay up, but usually the plaintiffs are in on the game.
The conclusion that sanctions are warranted because the conduct “constitutes bad faith and an egregious disrespect for the judicial process,” as Lapolla attorneys argue, is now clear as a bolt of lightning over open water on a dark night. Ratner will now have the opportunity to defend Morelli Alters Ratner’s actions, as well as those that he undertook in his own brief opposing the motion for sanctions.
It might take a far leap legal argument and some real creativity from Ratner to make that case … but that’s clearly something he should have no trouble doing, especially considering some of Morelli Alters Ratner’s shady behavior thus far, which includes the firm’s long history of filing frivolous lawsuits, being sued not only for not paying for its copy machines, but also for sexual harassment, not paying office rent and receiving court sanctions for withholding evidence …
Jacob Jones is a contributing journalist for TheBlot Magazine.