Release a Client's Mental Health Records, Get Suspended
Just like in life, there are crossroads in law.
Sometimes a lawyer will stand at the crossroads of a career decision. Other times, it may happen while facing a cross-over of legal questions.
For attorney Jason Pearl, it was a little of both. Unfortunately, he went down the wrong road.
Pearl defended Veronika Perakos in a dispute with her condominium association. She owed about $22,000 in assessments and other fees.
After she lost the property in foreclosure, she sued Pearl for failing to notify her about the risk of foreclosure. He then made a critical mistake.
He asked the court to declare the plaintiff "unfit to testify due to her psychiatric history" -- AND he attached a copy of her mental health records.
Even if HIPPA rules didn't apply, Professional Responsibility rules did. After a disciplinary hearing, he was suspended from practice for two years.
It was the not the first time for the attorney, who began practicing law in 1956. He was suspended for 120 days in 2013 for not complying with an audit.
In releasing Perako's medical records, a judge said, Pearl had engaged in "conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice." Judge Joan Alexander said the attorney did it to embarrass his client in retaliation for suing him.
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