NJ Woman Suing Former Attorney’s Estate Following Malpractice and Suicide
It sounds like something that could have come out of Hollywood. After years of legal maneuvering, a prominent, accomplished attorney promises a client a whopping six-figure settlement. Facing unrelated disciplinary actions from another case, that same attorney takes his own life. When his former client tries to collect her check, she discovers no such lawsuit was ever filed — and moves against his mourning estate for millions of dollars in damages.
It’s a strange, sad story which demonstrates that even the best and most highly-regarded attorneys sometimes become tangled in malpractice. John Fahy was well-known, well-respected, and successful. What happened toward the end of his life? Friends and family still struggle to find answers — even as they struggle against a massive malpractice lawsuit that has opinions sharply divided.
Attorney John Fahy’s Suicide Shocks Friends and Family
John J. Fahy was 58 years old. He was a respected attorney in Bergen County, New Jersey. He was a founding and senior partner at law firm Fahy Choi, where he worked with partner Benjamin Choi. “He was an icon,” in the words of local police sergeant Michael Barry, who described Fahy as “calm,” “levelheaded,” and “analytical” to Cliffview Pilot — he was someone who “epitomized everything we loved about the law.” He had made television appearances, worked at a smattering of prominent law firms, and served as counsel to the National Police Defense Program.
Fahy doesn’t seem like he was a suicide risk. But on July 17, he paused underneath the Bergen Line Bridge where it passes over Route 17, near where he made his home in East Rutherford, and shot himself in the head with a handgun.
Shortly before his suicide, Fahy had been on the unfamiliar side of the law. Following a billing dispute from a case, the Supreme Court was poised to hit the attorney with a minor fine — and more importantly, family suspects, a temporary license suspension. It logically seems as though this must be the explanation for his actions.
But now, details of another, far more controversial case tied to Fahy are coming to light.
Ex-Client Suing for $10M After $1.2M Worth of Malpractice
One of John Fahy’s clients was Vivian Thorsen, a resident of Morris County. Thorsen had worked for an insurance firm called The MacCormack Agency, until she was terminated in 2010 after alleging sexual harassment. Thorsen turned to Fahy for assistance, and for years, her case seemed to be moving along without any problems — favorably, in fact. Fahy told Thorsen he had obtained a fat settlement: $1.2 million.
Following Fahy’s suicide, Thorsen decided to get in touch with his law firm, Fahy Choi, and collect her check. She was expecting $1.2 million dollars. What she got was something less: puzzled reassurances that neither Fahy, nor anyone at the firm, had ever filed such a suit.
Thorsen was disappointed. She has since retained an attorney, Ben Wasserman, to file a lawsuit against the Fahy estate, pursuing damages to the tune of $10 million. Joe Orlando, who is acting as a spokesman for the Fahy family, is unimpressed, calling the timing of the suit “opportunistic” and “despicable.”
Wasserman agrees and disagrees. “It hurt me to file this lawsuit,” Wasserman says. “Mr. Fahy was an icon in Bergen County, and I feel deeply sorry for his widow. But,” he concedes, “we have a client with serious complaints.” He adds, “These are not bogus allegations.”
At Maselli Warren, we understand how damaging attorney malpractice can be to clients, and we are committed to holding attorneys to high ethical standards. If you are in need of attorney malpractice representation in New Jersey, call the law offices of Maselli Warren at (800) 891-2657, or contact us online.