On the eve of trial of former Major League Baseball All-Star outfielder Lenny Dykstra’s malpractice suit against a law firm he hired after he was allegedly beaten by deputes in the Men’s Central Jail in 2012, a judge Friday denied that firm’s motion to disqualify the current group of lawyers from representing him.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Patricia Nieto stated in a written ruling that although the action of an attorney for Dykstra’s current firm, Pierce, Bainbridge, Beck, Price & Hecht LLP, regarding an email communication was “improper and potentially warrants punishment,” disqualification was not the proper remedy.
“This is simply the purview of the State Bar, rather than the trial court,” Nieto wrote.
Dykstra is suing the firm Boucher LLP. On Sept. 29, Pierce Bainbridge lawyer Thomas D. Warren sent an email — a copy of which is contained in Pierce Bainbridge’s court papers — to attorneys representing the Boucher LLP firm stating that he would like to speak to the head of the firm, Raymond Boucher, about potentially resolving the case “unless you have any objection.”
A copy of the email was sent to Boucher, according to the Pierce Bainbridge court papers.
In their court papers, the Boucher attorneys called the email a “calculated move to help Dykstra extract money from defendants by getting between them and their attorneys.”
But Warren defended his actions.
“Given these circumstances, it never dawned on me for an instant that they would take offense at my email, much less that they would accuse me of unethical conduct for inquiring about whether Mr. Boucher had an interest in discussing settlement with me,” Warren stated in a sworn declaration.
The trial of the malpractice suit is scheduled to begin Monday, but the judge said she may send the case to another courtroom if the lawyers cannot convince her it can be completed within 20 days. She is scheduled to hold a final pretrial hearing Monday afternoon.
Dykstra filed the complaint in February 2017, alleging professional negligence, breach of contract, fraudulent concealment and that the firm put its interests ahead of Dykstra’s.
The suit alleges Boucher LLP lawyers did not conduct meaningful trial preparation and discovery during a 14-month period, actions amounting to “attorney misconduct and client abandonment.”
The suit further alleges lawyers for Boucher LLP did not do enough to determine the alleged involvement of numerous deputies or request the extra time needed to serve them with the complaint. Dykstra’s complaint against the deputies was filed in April 2014. He hired Boucher LLP to begin representing him in the case in September 2015, the suit states.
“Plaintiff is informed and believes … that, but for the aforementioned professional negligence of the defendants … plaintiff would have received and recovered a better result in his (lawsuit),” the complaint states.
Lawyers for Boucher LLP state in their court papers that Dykstra repeatedly lied to the Boucher attorneys and that they eventually realized they had little or no chance of winning his case. When the Boucher attorneys met with Dykstra in September 2016 to tell them they were withdrawing their representation, he fired them shortly after the meeting began, according to the Boucher attorneys’ court papers.
Dykstra dropped what remained of his case against the deputies in December 2016 while he was being represented by a different lawyer. The decision came two months after Judge Daniel Murphy, citing immunity, ruled that Dykstra could not move forward with the part of his case against Los Angeles County. Murphy also tossed allegations against a sheriff’s sergeant, leaving one deputy as the remaining defendant in the case.
According to Dykstra’s first suit, deputies on April, 5, 2012, entered his cell and assaulted him for no legitimate reason. He claimed they slammed his head against a wall, that some of his teeth were knocked out and he that he was left barely breathing.
The suit alleged the jail system was “fueled by abusive violence.” Defense attorneys maintained in their court papers that Dykstra became combative.
Dykstra also alleged he was beaten again later at Garfield Medical Center in Monterey Park, where he was treated for injuries from the jail incident. Dykstra said deputies at the hospital punched him in the face at least twice, causing him to lose at minimum one tooth.
The alleged beatings took place the same month Dykstra pleaded no contest to exposing himself to women he met on Craigslist. He was already serving time for grand theft auto and providing a false financial statement, and would later be sentenced to six months for bankruptcy fraud.
Dykstra was released in June 2013 and filed suit the following April.
He played for the New York Mets from 1985-89 and Philadelphia Phillies from 1989-96. He was selected to play in the 1990, 1994 and 1995 All-Star Games.
Dykstra, 56, was nicknamed “Nails” for his hard-nosed demeanor. He was born in Santa Ana and raised in Garden Grove.