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Baldwin Park City Attorney, Robert Tafoya Hit With $36K Sanction for Filing a False Disability Lawsuit

From Lawzilla.com

On October 2, 2017 – the Los Angeles Superior Court sanctioned Robert Nacionales-Tafoya – attorney at law – $36,037.54 for filing a false disability lawsuit for plaintiff Lorena Cabrera against the defendant, Popchips, Inc. The court found that Tafoya hired a doctor with an ex-felony conviction to testify about the plaintiff’s disability. The problem was that the doctor never actually examined the plaintiff himself. How can an attorney like this continue to practice law?

Not only was the trial court shocked by the doctor’s contrived testimony, the court found that the lawsuit was completely “concocted” and sanctioned the plaintiff and attorney Tafoya $36,037.54. On September 11, 2019 -The Court of Appeal affirmed the sanctions with its opinion.

On October 28, 2019 – Tafoya filed a late petition with the California Supreme Court. On October 29, 2019 – the Court denied Tafoya’s excuse for filing late and refused to review his petition. Now, Tafoya and the plaintiff are on the hook for $36,037.54. Also, Tafoya may be subject to bar discipline.

Currently, Tafoya acts as a government attorney for the City of Baldwin park and the West Valley WaterBoard. For the former, he’s a contracted city attorney. For the latter, he’s general counsel.

According to the court sanction documents, Tafoya and the plaintiff pursued the case to trial, even though they didn’t have the facts to support a jury verdict. Their strategy was to prolong litigation, marshaling “scorched earth tactics”. In short, even though Tafoya didn’t have a case, he was hoping that the defendant would settle with them, because he was driving up the legal fees for the other side.

The defendant, Popchips, decided not to settle and proceed to trial. At the second day of trial, without any explanation, Tafoya left at lunch and never returned. Another attorney, who didn’t have sufficient knowledge of the case, had to proceed. The defendants eventually prevailed.

The Court of Appeal agreed with the trial court. It stated, The plaintiff’s “first cause of action for disability discrimination was frivolous because she did not have a disability.” It also affirmed that the disability “was completely concocted.” The court noted that Dr. Woodward, the “defrocked” doctor who testified at trial . . . never examined” the plaintiff.

This isn’t the first time that Tafoya has abused his position as an attorney to defraud the courts and taxpayers. Tafoya’s law firm submitted questionable billing at the Central Water Basin. Tafoya defendant an alleged rapist and serial sexual predator. After losing at trial, he cost his client $7.3 million. In a case against my client, Tafoya misrepresented my signature.

Currently, Tafoya is being sued personally in a whistleblower lawsuit. According to the San Bernardino Sun, Tafoya awarded “lucrative” contracts to his friends.

Also, “Tafoya’s law firm, Tafoya & Garcia LLP, paid for certain board members to travel to Mexico, Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Miami; arranged and paid for NFL games, golf and expensive meals; made campaign contributions to Taylor and Crowther, and hosted a fundraiser  for Crowther at the Los Angeles Athletic Club.”

Finally, in exchange for alleged corrupt acts and nepotism, the Kaufman Law Firm gave “Tafoya lavish trips, event tickets, expensive meals and other gifts and payments, paid for Taylor, Tafoya and Crowther to attend a football game,”.

Tafoya may be facing bar disciplinary action. This is because state law and the attorney’s code of ethics requires Tafoya to self-report his sanctions within 30 days. (Bus. & Prof. Code, § 6068(o)(3)). Given the way he operates and Tafoya’s history, this most likely did not have happen.

Also, the law prohibits the filing of a frivolous lawsuit. (Bus. & Prof. Code, § 6068(c) and California Bar Rule 3.1).

Such egregious conducts by licensed attorneys require discipline for three reasons. One, filing of false claims wastes the court’s resources. Think about the judge and jury time and defense counsel’s time and work all wasted on this case. Two, the courts cannot mete out justice or fair decisions with deceit and dishonesty being admitted regularly. Three, the public loses trust in the justice system and instead turns to vigilantism.

For all the above reasons, no wonder why there’s lawyer jokes that go like this. What’s the difference between a vacuum cleaner and a lawyer riding a motorcycle? The vacuum cleaner has the dirt bag on the inside.