CHICAGO (FAXX/jGLi) – Lawyers in Illinois facing punitive damage claims can be compelled to disclose their “personal financial information” so it can “lead to purposeful discussions of settlement, which can lead to a more effective use of the court’s resources.”
In granting the motion of the Cook County Public Guardian Robert F. Harris to compel Filipino American lawyer Alfonso S. Bascos Tuesday (June 4), Cook County Circuit Court Associate Judge Lynne Kawamoto supported the argument raised by Atty. James Burton during the oral argument of the case filed on behalf of disabled person, Marshall F. Davies, against Davies’ Filipino American caregiver Carmelita Pasamba and others that when “a financial wealth of a respondent is a case where punitive damages are pled, a judge or jury can properly access an award of punitive damages to punish the wrongdoer.”
Bascos’ Filipino American lawyer Arcadio Joaquin Jr. argued that the Public Guardian is “not entitled to seek discovery as to his (lawyer’s) personal wealth since no judgment has been entered against him and that the request for financial information is not relevant to the case at bar.”
Joaquin said the request for disclosure of Bascos’ personal financial assets is “not competent, relevant and material.” It is also “premature” at the “pre-trial stage” and would be a “serious invasion of privacy.”
However, citing precedents (Powers v. Rosine and Central Bank-Granite City v. Ziaee), Burton said, “(c)ontrary to his (Bascos’) position, Illinois courts have long held that personal financial information is relevant and discoverable prior to trial if punitive damages are claimed.”
Bascos, 76, is being cited in a case for citation to recover assets, alleging two counts against him for conspiracy and legal malpractice and the Public Guardian is seeking punitive damages for each count.
BASCOS’ CHARITIES & PASAMBA GET 2/3 OF DAVIES’ ESTATE
Bascos’ charities at the Filipino American Council of Greater Chicago (FACC) and Carmelita Pasamba would “inherit two-thirds of Mr. Davies’s estate upon the death of Mr. Davies,” a demented, elderly man, who lost more than $536,000 to Pasamba, Pasamba’s sister, Jocelyn Baker, her adult children, Donabel Copon and Dennis Pasamba, her husband, Edgardo Pasamba, and St. Joseph Hospital, according to Burton’s motion.
Ms. Pasamba, Edgardo Pasamba and Baker would receive thousands of dollars upon Mr. Davies’ death based on the power of attorney, pour-over will and trust drafted by Bascos.
In furtherance of the conspiracy, Bascos wrote letters to Catholic Charities Elder Protective Services to prevent the agency from learning that Carmelita Pasamba had converted more than $536,000 from Mr. Davies.
This led Judge Kawamoto to ask who Bascos was representing Davies or Pasamba? Burton clarified it was Davies’ fiduciary duties that Bascos breached. “Mr. Bascos failed to exercise undivided loyalty to Mr. Davies when he wrote letters assuring elder protective services that Carmelita Pasamba was not exploiting Mr. Davies.”
Burton also disclosed that Bascos is not covered by malpractice insurance, a coverage held by 52.4% of the 87,943 lawyers listed under the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission (ARDC) of Illinois in 2011. Securing malpractice insurance, though, is not a requirement for lawyers by the Illinois Supreme Court.
At the start of the oral argument, Judge Kawamoto informed Burton and other lawyers in the case that Pasamba, Edgardo Pasamba and Jocelyn Baker are now in detention charged with criminal case of financial exploitation of a senior citizen that arose from the case she is presiding. The other lawyers in the case are Charles Slamar, Adam Stern, Gordon Gault, Alan Bers, Anthony Danhelka and Patricia S. Kocour.
Bascos was given seven days to answer Public Guardian’s interrogatories. The case is continued to Aug. 14, 2013 at 2 p.m.