Order Denying Plaintiff's Motion to Disqualify

10 January 2003

This order in 327kb PDF

CASE NO. 00-2750CI-20


DELL LIEBREICH, individually and as
Personal Representative of the Estate of
Lisa McPherson,



THIS CAUSE coming on to be heard upon the Plaintiff's Motion to
Disqualify Counsel and the court having heard testimony and received
evidence regarding the same and having reviewed argument of counsel

The Plaintiff's motion seeks the disqualification of Kennan G. Dandar,
Esq., and the law firm of Dandar and Dandar, the Defendant's attorneys
on the basis of allegations of misconduct. Those allegations fall
within two broad categories. The first concerns the nature and
propriety of the financial arrangements which Mr. Dandar had with
Robert Minton regarding his financial support for the Defendants in
this litigation. The second concerns allegations of perjury and the
solicitation of perjury by Mr. Dandar during the lengthy discovery
phase of this litigation. Each allegation of misconduct will be
addressed separately, although they are all interrelated and the
evidence regarding each is generally common to all.

Theft of Client's Money

	Plaintiff has alleged that Mr. Dandar has stolen funds
provided by Robert Minton, and intended for the support of the
Defendant's defense in this litigation, and used them for his own
purposes. The sole evidentiary basis for such a claim is the testimony
of Robert Minton himself. The court does not find that testimony to be
credible, and the Plaintiff has not  sustained its burden of proving
the allegation of theft. As to whether Mr. Dandar or his firm should

[page 2]
removed from representation of the Defendant by virtue of actions
regarding the use of these funds, the court notes that the client
herself is not dissatisfied and desires that her counsel continue his
representation. If the party whose funds mere allegedly stolen desires
that her counsel remain on the case, in spite of all the allegations
and evidence produced during this proceeding, then the court will not

Commingling of Funds

	These allegations concern some of the same funds referred to
above. Although this court has indicated that it does not find the
testimony of Robert Minton alone to be credible, the allegations of
commingling are supported by the testimony of Kennan G. Dandar
himself. During the course of this litigation, Robert Minton provided
over a million dollars to Dandar in support of his representation of
the Defendants. Some of those funds were deposited into the
Dandar and Dandar client trust account, some were deposited into the
Dandar and Dandar office operating account and some were deposited
directly into personal accounts or investments of Kennan G. Dandar.
Mr. Dandar has suggested that his actions were appropriate, and has
provided a rather tortured account of the shifting nature of the
financial arrangements he had with Minton regarding his various
substantial contributions. This court does not find his account
to be credible and further finds that there appear to have been
serious violations of Rule 4-1.15 of the Florida Rules Of Professional
Conduct. Again, Mr. Dandar's client is fully aware of his actions and
has not voiced any objection. In light of that fact and the hardship
to the client that disqualification would create, it is inappropriate
to remove her counsel on the basis of these apparent ethical
violations. However, the court will refer this matter to the Florida
Bar Association for further investigation and appropriate disciplinary

		Violations of Restrictions Imposed by The Florida Bar

	This allegation suggests that Mr. Dandar violated the Rules of
Professional Conduct by allowing a person (Robert Minton) who had
provided financial support for the litigation to interfere with his
independent professional judgment or with the client-lawyer
relationship. The court finds that there is insufficient credible
evidence to sustain the Plaintiff's burden of proof regarding these

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Directing Minton Not to Produce Documents

The sole evidentiary support for this allegation is the testimony of
Robert Minton. That testimony is directly contradicted by the
testimony of Kennan Dandar. Although this court is unable to determine
the truthfulness of either witness, the burden of proof in this case
is upon the Plaintiff as the moving party. The evidence and testimony
regarding this issue has not sustained the Plaintiff s burden and must
therefore fail. This finding should not be interpreted or construed
as an endorsement of the credibility of Mr. Dandar. Obviously both he
and Minton have considerable personal stake in the outcome of this
matter. The court is frankly unable to reconcile their testimony and
arrive at the truth. However the burden of proof is upon the
Plaintiff and it has not been met.

Soliciting Minton to Commit Perjury

As previously noted above, this allegation is solely dependent upon
the testimony of	Robert Minton. Since the court has found that
his testimony is not credible, indeed since he has admitted previous
perjury on the record in this very action, it will not sustain the
Plaintiff's burden of proof regarding this issue.

Dandar's Misrepresentations to the Courts

		These allegations are based upon the previous ones and
are dependent upon the credibility of the testimony of Robert Minton,
or in some respects the testimony of Jesse Prince. Neither witness is
credible and the court finds that the Plaintiff has failed to sustain
its burden of proof regarding them. The court further finds that the
conduct of Kennan Dandar during hearings before this court do not
warrant disqualification.
		IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that the Plaintiff's Motion
for Disqualification be and the same is hereby DENIED.
		DONE AND ORDERED in Chambers at Clearwater, Pinellas
County, Florida this
	10 day of January, 2003.


cc:  F. Wallace Pope, Jr., Esq.
     Thomas Dandar, Esq.
     Kennan Dandar Es
     Samuel D.Rosen, Esq.
     Thomas H. McGowan, Esq.
     Luke Lirot, Esq.
     Anthony S. Battaglia,Esq.

To Life and Death of Lisa McPherson