Haddonfield Lawyer Gets 6-Month Suspension for Neglect, Misrepresentation in Divorce Case
The lawyer failed to answer discovery requests and failed to serve her own discovery requests within the allotted time.
Submitted by New Jersey Family Law Attorney, Jeffrey Hark.
The New Jersey Supreme Court has imposed a six-month suspension on Haddonfield attorney Susan Lowden for lying to a client about the status of his case in order to conceal her neglect of the matter.
The court imposed the suspension on Lowden in an order made public Thursday. Lowden was found in default by a District Ethics Committee after she failed to file an answer to the complaint. Four Disciplinary Review Board members favored a six-month suspension while four others favored a three-month suspension.
The suspension stems from Lowden’s representation of Scott Spruill, beginning in 2013, in connection with his divorce. It was a complex case involving a marriage in which one family business was sold and another that filed for bankruptcy.
Lowden failed to answer discovery requests and failed to serve her own discovery requests within the allotted time. For several months in 2016, Lowden repeatedly told Spruill that she was “waiting for a court date,” in hopes of misleading him into thinking she had filed a motion that she had not yet filed, according to the Disciplinary Review Board.
An ethics complaint said Lowden engaged in a pattern of putting off Spruill, delaying the process of giving the client any substantive information.
For eight months, she falsely represented to Spruill that his wife’s lawyers were not returning her calls, and that delays in the case were the result of waiting for an expert’s report. But, in fact, the delays were caused by Spruill’s failure to pay an expert’s fees, an obligation that Spruill was unaware of because Lowden never notified him about it, the complaint said.
In the fall of 2016, Lowden failed to notify Spruill about a motion to strike his pleadings, with prejudice, and failed to oppose the motion. She also failed to provide him a copy of a January 2017 order addressing his failure to pay discovery.
The court found Lowden engaged in ethics violations for gross neglect, lack of diligence, failure to keep a client informed, failure to explain a matter to a client, failure to set forth in writing the basis of a legal fee, failure to cooperate with disciplinary authorities, and conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation.
Lowden was already suspended effective April 2019 for failure to comply with a directive of a Fee Arbitration Committee. She received a reprimand in 2014 for repeatedly misrepresenting to another client the status of his case, and in 2016 she was censured for misrepresenting to a client in a different case that she had filed a complaint.
The phone at Lowden’s Haddonfield office is disconnected, and she could not be located for comment.
Originally published here by law.com