Former state Rep. Gannon suspended from practicing law for two years
The Delaware County Daily Times
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
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
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 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
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
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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