Former state Rep. Gannon suspended from practicing law for two years
The Delaware County Daily Times
Alex Rose
27 December 2018

Former state Rep. Tom Gannon has been suspended from practicing law in the state for two years due to multiple rules violations incurred while representing a client in a condominium association action, according to an order entered by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court Friday.

“The facts demonstrate that (Gannon) abused the court system for the last eight years in connection with his representation of Daniel King against Riverwatch (Condominium Owners Association) in litigation concerning reimbursement of monies King expended to repair a structural defect in his townhouse,” the order states. “…The record is replete with multiple instances to sustain (Gannon’s) violations of the Rules of Professional Conduct.”

Gannon, 75, a Republican, represented the 161st Legislative District from 1979 to 2006, when he was succeeded by former state Rep. Bryan Lentz, a Democrat. The seat is currently held by Democrat Leanne Krueger-Braneky of Swarthmore.

He also ran unsuccessfully, and without party backing, for a county judgeship in 2007.

Gannon had been admitted to practice law in the state since 1976 and maintained a law office at 522 Kelly Ave. in Woodlyn.

According to the order, Gannon represented King in an attempt to recover $3,577 from Riverwatch for out-of-pocket costs to repair a steel I-beam in the garage of his townhome, which had been converted to living space.

King refused to allow Riverwatch’s contractor to enter his home

Riverwatch later settled with the architect in a malpractice suit, but King refused to allow Riverwatch’s contractor to enter his home unless the converted garage was restored and he was reimbursed for the cost of his repairs, according to the order.

King successfully sued Riverwatch in Magisterial District Court in 2008, prompting the association to appeal to the Delaware County Court of Common Pleas. Gannon filed a complaint on King’s behalf against Riverwatch alleging unjust enrichment, equitable estoppel and a violation of the Uniform Condominium Act. Riverwatch filed a counterclaim requesting fees and a $100 per diem fine for every day that the contractor could not access King’s home to make the repairs.

Delaware County Court of Common Pleas Judge Charles B. Burr entered a verdict in Riverwatch’s favor in June 2010, granting the association $8,500 in legal fees. Riverwatch agreed to forgo the $70,000 in per diem fees that had accrued to that point.

Gannon filed a late appeal that was dismissed with prejudice and Burr denied reconsideration of that appeal in September 2010. The Commonwealth Court issued an opinion in July 2011 affirming Burr’s judgment and the state Supreme Court declined hearing the case in 2012.

a competent attorney should have known

At that point, the order states, a competent attorney should have known that a client had no legitimate basis to continue to litigate the issues. What followed instead was a “barrage” of meritless filings that went all the way up to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, according to the order.

Nearly all of the filings appeared to be premised on the assertion that Burr lacked authority or jurisdiction to issue the June 2010 order in the first place. Gannon said Monday that because the issue of the counterclaim was never addressed by arbitrators from the outset, Burr could not legally make a ruling on a “final order,” which effectively nullified all consequent litigation.

“The appeals court never said that (Burr) had jurisdiction to hear the case,” Gannon said. “Show me in the record where an appellate court said Judge Burr had the authority to hear the counterclaim.”

Gannon has filed a complaint in federal court seeking to address that issue.

filing a total 46 appeals in the state court system

Friday’s order indicates Gannon persisted in filing a total 46 appeals in the state court system despite multiple denials, admonitions from the state Supreme Court, and even disqualification orders that should have removed him from the case entirely.

“Nevertheless, (Gannon) continued his pattern and practice of frivolous filings and appeals on behalf of Mr. King, despite the fact that doing so was in contravention of court orders,” according to the order.

Gannon denied making any filings after he had been barred from doing so by the court and maintained that he was fighting for his client, as he was required to do. He additionally argued that many of the “appeals” referred to were simply motions, and that he was forced to guess at the issues at hand because none of the rulings provided any reasoning for the denials.

“The court absolutely refused to give my client any justice,” Gannon said. “It really, really concerns me that the court acted the way they did without examining the record, or in other words, without examining the facts and the law presented to them. … I can live with the bad decision. I can lose, but I want to lose fairly.”

Gannon also pointed to issues arising from his mistakenly not being notified of Burr’s June 2010 order, which he said wrongly precluding him from filing timely post-trial motions.

When the state court system was finally blocked as a avenue of redress by Pennsylvania Supreme Court order, Gannon moved on to the federal court system with a civil rights claim. A March 2018 order from Senior U.S. District Judge Michael Baylson of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania indicated Gannon “multiplied the proceedings unreasonably and vexatiously, in willful bad faith,” and “transcended the bounds of zealous advocacy” on behalf of his client.

King said at a Disciplinary Board hearing in December 2017 that Gannon had kept him apprised of every step of the legal process, but that King did not have a firm understanding of the justice system, according to the order. He stated that he had authorized Gannon to “shoot for the stars” with regard to his claims, however, and that he was continuing the litigation on “principle.”

Gannon, who had little appellate practice prior to this case, also testified at that hearing that he learned jurisdiction is a sensitive issue for judges in Pennsylvania and that “if I knew then what I know now, we wouldn’t be here.”

The Disciplinary Board found that “tepid assessment” to be hollow and lacking remorse, however. The order notes Gannon’s misconduct spanned years and continued even after a petition for discipline had been filed against him.

failed to pay a $10,500 contempt judgment

Gannon has likewise failed to pay a $10,500 contempt judgment entered against him in April 2017, further indicating he does not accept responsibility for his actions, the order says, and Riverwatch has incurred more than $87,000 in legal fees due to Gannon’s filings following the June 2010 verdict.

The order says Gannon also misrepresented to Burr that King was unable to attend a hearing in 2016 because he had been in a car accident two weeks prior. King later testified that no such accident had taken place and Gannon never corrected the misrepresentation, according to the order.

his client has now filed for bankruptcy

The order notes that King, 70, is a retired mechanic living on a fixed income and has now filed for bankruptcy.

“I never stole a f---ing penny,” Gannon said Monday. “I never misrepresented anybody and I’m being suspended for filing appeals to the court, which is how you’re supposed to do it. The Constitution doesn’t say ‘You’re supposed to file appeals and here’s your limit.’”

The Disciplinary Board found Gannon had violated six areas of professional conduct, including false statements; engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation; engaging in a frivolous action; and providing incompetent representation.

The suspension is effective Jan. 20. Gannon was also ordered to pay all costs incurred in the board’s investigation and prosecution.

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