If you’re looking for a down and dirty street fight, look no further than one lawyer suing another. They don’t bring knives to a gunfight. They bring legal documents that might as well be Uzis, because they’re meant to destroy.
Two rival Las Vegas personal injury attorneys, Adam Kutner and Eric Daly, are having it out in District Court, and the charges and countercharges of wrongdoing make for drama more akin to Jerry Springer than Masterpiece Theatre.
Kutner, whose face is well known to anyone with a television because of his incessant advertising, sued Daly and Kutner’s former legal assistant, Kathleen Gibbs, who worked for him for seven years starting in 2004.
In his defamation and breach of contract lawsuit, Kutner alleged Gibbs is the source of “preposterous allegations of professional misconduct and criminal activities in an attempt to gain leverage” over him. Kutner says he’s a victim of extortion, Daly is trying to steal his clients and Gibbs is mentally unstable.
Daly, representing Gibbs after she was fired by Kutner, said Kutner created a “toxic work environment.” He was drafting her lawsuit to sue Kutner for causing her emotional distress, but Kutner sued Gibbs and Daly first.
Daly has filed a grievance against Kutner with the State Bar of Nevada, but Assistant Bar Counsel Phil Pattee said the allegations have not yet been screened by a panel, so it’s unknown whether the Bar will proceed against Kutner.
The allegations made to the State Bar are similar to the allegations in the civil case, accusing Kutner of unethical and borderline illegal behavior as a lawyer.
Recently, Daly filed 320 pages of documents showing what evidence he has to back up his claims that Kutner violates rules prohibiting lawyers from making improper referral arrangements with chiropractors and offers improper gifts.
Gibbs said that over seven years she never once saw Kutner meet with a client. As his legal assistant and marketing representative, Gibbs said she had to contact chiropractors to tell them Kutner would give them two referrals for every one they gave him.
Kutner also offered a $250 gift card from Wal-Mart for each referral. Over one 22-day period, $7,000 worth of gift cards were purchased with $7,000 in cash, according to Gibbs’ daughter, who also worked at the law firm and bought the gift cards.
“Both marketing approaches are of dubious ethics and legality, at best,” Daly wrote.
An employee who was not an attorney negotiated insurance settlements, and legal assistants signed up new clients without any attorney involvement, according to several affidavits.
Gibbs included affidavits from employees saying they thought Kutner might be using cocaine.
Let’s just say there isn’t a lot of self-imposed restraint on either side.
On Aug. 26, a judge will hear a motion for a preliminary injunction. Kutner wants to, among other things, block Daly and Gibbs from talking to Kutner’s past and present employees.
The judge also is asked to order Gibbs to remove a bumper sticker from her car saying, “ADAM KUTNER SUCKS.”
In 2008, CityLife wrote a scathing report about the way Kutner berates his employees, hurling items at women as well as insults and obscenities.
While a lot remains to be proven, it is fact that on July 11 a woman working for Kutner claimed she was being held against her will in his office and a Bar official actually came to Kutner’s office to check it out.
How many times does the State Bar get called upon to do that?
Count on this: This case will continue in the style it began. Ferocious and relentless. Competitors who are also attorneys know no other way to battle.
Jane Ann Morrison’s column appears Monday, Thursday and Saturday. Email her at Jane@reviewjournal.com or call her at (702) 383-0275. She also blogs at lvrj.com/blogs/Morrison.