Update: On January 23, 2017, a hearing panel, by a 2 to 1 vote, recommended a reprimand for Ciardi.
On March 3, 2016, the District IV Ethics Committee filed a formal complaint against a Haddonfield lawyer for allegedly executing a $97,136 judgment against a client despite a Fee Arbitration Committee’s ruling two years earlier that the lawyer wasn’t entitled to the fee.
According to the ethics complaint, Albert A. Ciardi, III, a partner in Ciardi Ciardi & Astin, filed a 2007 bankruptcy petition on behalf of a corporate client and later billed Thomas Tomei, a principal of the client, for legal fees arising out the bankruptcy filing. Ciardi then allegedly sued Tomei in Pennsylvania without first notifying him of his right to seek arbitration through the New Jersey Supreme Court’s Fee Arbitration Committee. Ciardi allegedly failed or refused to stay the court action after Tomei filed for fee arbitration and continued to pursue the $97,136 judgment two years after the Fee Arbitration Committee ruled that no fee was owed.
Ciardi, through attorney Carl D. Poplar of Cherry Hill, has contested the allegations and asserts that the allegations, if true, do not constitute a violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct. Presently, the allegations against Ciardi remain unproven and the burden of proof rests with ethics authorities.
Since 1995, attorney disciplinary hearings have been open to the public. Anyone who is interested in being notified in advance of any hearings on this matter may complete and send a hearing request form to Ethics Secretary John Palm via fax to 856-783-5464.