On Thursday, April 13, 2023, the Supreme Court of New Jersey ordered that no additional discipline will be implemented against attorney Christopher Michael Manganello after his failure to properly communicate with the client.

The case is entitled “In the Matter of Christopher Michael Manganello,” with case no. D-130.

The charges cited New Jersey Rules of Professional Conduct 1.1(a), 1.3, 1.4(b), 1.5(a), 8.1(b), 8.4(c) and 8.4(d).

The Rules of Professional Conduct can be found here.

Allegedly, the respondent failed to properly inform his client regarding the status of the development of his case. The latter made several attempts to reach and communicate with the respondent to obtain information about the lawsuit. He repeatedly and frequently sought status updates from the respondent, to which the respondent rarely replied. When the respondent did reply, his reply generally lacked any substance and failed to address the client’s questions. Further, the call log and e-mails reflected lengthy delays spanning, at times, 30 or more days during which periods the respondent simply ignored the client’s requests for information.

The Decision states:

“During the ethics hearing, Joseph Pizzoli testified that the respondent never advised him that the complaint was at risk of dismissal. In fact, according to Pizzoli, the respondent led him to believe that the trial court had scheduled a March 26, 2019 hearing. Pizzoli testified he had planned to attend the hearing and, on March 11, 2019, in anticipation of the hearing, provided the respondent with supporting documents, including credit card bills and a spreadsheet. Pizzoli testified that he was on his way to the courthouse when the respondent contacted him and said that his appearance was not required.”

The Decision continues:

“On April 23, 2019, nearly a month after his case had been dismissed, Pizzoli again asked the respondent for a copy of the judgment and inquired regarding what steps the respondent had taken to “begin collection.” Respondent failed to inform Pizzoli that the complaint had been dismissed. Receiving no response, in late April, Pizzoli called the Superior Court and learned that his civil action had been dismissed. When Pizzoli confronted the respondent regarding the dismissal, the respondent claimed it was dismissed due to a mistake by the court. Thereafter, Pizzoli sent multiple e-mails to the respondent seeking additional information, to no avail.”

The Decision further states:

“Almost immediately, the respondent replied to Pizzoli’s e-mail, stating that he would call the following day. A few minutes later, the respondent again wrote to Pizzoli, confirming, for the first time, that the case had not been reinstated and that, “we need to meet as I mentioned before so that we can finalize a [c]ertification for your signature. Please confirm your availability to meet this week.” Respondent ignored Pizzoli’s demand that he immediately stop working on the case.”

In defense of his actions, the respondent testified that he had twice attempted to serve the complaint upon the defendants. Respondent claimed that he informed the client that the complaint was scheduled for administrative dismissal, but the client was unconcerned because the debtors were making payments. Respondent acknowledged having received the client’s emails that suggested they had not communicated but testified that he routinely and promptly called the same. According to the respondent, the client never suggested, during their telephone conversations, that he was unhappy with the representation.

Accordingly, under the said circumstances, the court found that the respondent violated the abovementioned Rules of Professional Conduct.

However,  in view of its proximity to the respondent’s instant misconduct, a review of the respondent’s disciplinary timeline was made by the court for it has observed that some of the misconduct addressed some of its decisions overlaps with the misconduct in the said matter.

In relation to this, the court decided that the respondent should receive no additional discipline for violation of the rules of professional conduct as stated below.

The Disposition states:

“The Disciplinary Review Board has filed with the Court its decision in DRB 22-018, concluding that Christopher Michael Manganello of Pitman, who was admitted to the bar of this State in 1998, and who has been suspended from the practice of law since May 9, 2022, should receive no additional discipline for violating RPC 1.1(a) (gross neglect), RPC 1.3 (lack of diligence), RPC 1.4(b)(failure to communicate with a client), RPC overreaching), RPC 8. to cooperate with disciplinary authorities), RPC involving dishonest, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation), RPC 8.4(d)(conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice).”

Mr. Manganello practices in Pitman, New Jersey. He is licensed in New Jersey. His info can be found on avvo.com.

A copy of the original filing can be found here.