Legal Ethics

Attorney sued for malpractice is suspended after releasing client's psychiatric records

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A Connecticut attorney reportedly released a former client’s psychiatric records in an online court filing because he was mad that she sued him for malpractice following his representation in a condominium association matter.

Jason Pearl, who has been in practice since 1956, received a two-year suspension of his law license and must complete 20 hours of in-person ethics training, the Connecticut Law Tribune reports. He did not respond to the publication’s request for comment.

Veronica Perakos, Pearl’s former client, sued him for malpractice in December 2014. According to her complaint filed in Hartford Superior Court, Perakos hired Pearl in 2011 to defend her in a lawsuit her condominium association filed against her regarding common fees and monthly special assessment fees. Her debt to the association was $22,358, according to the malpractice action, and Pearl did not notify her about being at risk of foreclosure if she didn’t make monthly payments on the debt.

Six weeks after Perakos sued Pearl, he filed an electronic motion with the superior court asking that she be declared “unfit to testify due to her psychiatric history, medical commitment, conservatorship and untruthfulness.” With the motion he attached Perakos’ mental health records without her permission, according to the Connecticut Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel.

Pearl had represented Perakos on several previous matters, the article states, which is how he obtained her medical records dating back to 2006.

According to the legal malpractice lawsuit, Perakos’ property, which she used for rental income, was valued at $400,000 and she lost a substantial amount of equity when the property was foreclosed.

The lawsuit, which resulted in a judgement for Perakos, also claims Pearl did not explain to Perakos what happened after a court hearing, failed to give the case files to Perakos’ new attorney in a timely manner, and told the new attorney that the client’s foreclosure matter was resolved if she placed the property on the market for a price set by the court.

Pearl was suspended for 120 days in 2013 for not complying with a random IOLTA audit in an unrelated case. Perakos claims that he also failed to notify her about that.

In an Aug. 7 order, New Britain Superior Court Judge Joan Alexander found that Pearl engaged in conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice when he publicly released Perakos’ medical records without authorization, and that his actions were retaliatory to embarrass her.

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