Earlier this month, the Minnesota Supreme Court heard argument in the matter involving Thomas J. Lyons, Jr., who is widely known in the local bar, if only indirectly by many, through his prolific Fair Debt Collection Practices Act complaints filed in U.S. District Court (D. Minn.). FDCPA claims by Lyons and others represent a substantial percentage of civil cases filed in the district for several years.
This most recent ethical imbroglio for Lyons, his eighth scrape with the Minnesota Lawyers Professional Responsibility Board, concerned a charge that Mr. Lyons had knowledge of the death of his client but concealed that information and, in fact, lied about his knowledge and the timing of when he learned of the death of his client in order to get the benefit of a settlement agreement in process at the time of his client’s death. Lyons is alleged to have lied not only in the underlying matter but also in the subsequent ethics inquiry by the board. The Board seeks a 12-month suspension from the practice of law.
Your debts survive your death, but do your FDCPA claims? Does it matter for purposes of this disciplinary action against Lyons? Answer to Question #2: No. (At a minimum, Lyon’s would have a new client, Plaintiff’s estate.) Chief Judge Magnuson pointed out that that serial lying, regardless, is not in dispute and this is clearly part of a history.
Eric Cooperstein represented Lyons. Cooperstein argued for a 30-day suspension. Either way, it is clear that Mr. Lyons will sit out some games, so to speak.