An Encinitas attorney accused of grand theft and
sexual battery against two clients faced involuntary inactive status following a hearing
in State Bar Court last month. Lingaraj Bahinipaty [#177510], who will be
59 this month, represented himself as both a lawyer and a doctor and allegedly performed
physical exam-inations of clients to determine if their claims had merit.
He pleaded not guilty to five counts of grand theft, a felony, and
two counts of misdemeanor sexual battery.
According to the criminal charges filed in Riverside County,
Bahinipaty charged five clients $35,385 in fees for legal work which never was performed.
The sexual battery charges resulted from complaints by two female clients, who said
Bahinipaty claimed to be a medical doctor.
Bahinipatys lawyer, Mark Sullivan, said his client is a
licensed orthopedic surgeon in Great Britain and Canada.
One client said she consulted Bahinipaty about a possible malpractice
suit against a plastic surgeon and the manufacturer of her silicone breast implants.
Bahinipaty asked her to remove her blouse and bra and touched the
clients breasts, according to court papers. He allegedly collected $1,600 in fees,
but never pursued the case and never refunded the fees.
The second matter also involved a possible malpractice case. The
client said Bahinipaty asked her to remove her pants and panties so he could examine her
back, according to court papers. After the exam, he allegedly asked her if she had ever
had sex or if she felt horny.
That client, who hired Bahinipaty after seeing a Yellow Pages
advertisement identifying him as both a lawyer and a doctor, paid him $2,000. He allegedly
never performed any legal work for her or refunded her fees.
State Bar charges filed against Bahinipaty in 12 matters went even
further than the criminal case, and include allegations that between August 1996 and
December 1999, he:
Claimed to be a medical doctor,
although he was never licensed to practice in California and had been ordered by the state
medical board to stop advertising himself as a physician;
Performed medical exams
on six clients;
Sexually assaulted four clients
during the course of the physical exams;
Misappropriated more than $76,000
in unearned advance fees and settlement funds and failed to refund portions of advance
fees that were not earned;
Made false representations to the
Committed acts of moral turpitude
by misappropriating client money and making false statements to the court and opposing
The bar also charged Bahinipaty with failure to perform legal
services competently, report a $1,000 sanction, notify clients of the receipt of
settlement funds, keep clients informed of developments in their cases and return client
papers and property.
In addition, the bar accused him of using undue influence and
misinformation in order to take sexual advantage of clients.
In a medical malpractice case, the bar charged that Bahinipaty filed
a complaint against his clients former physician, but listed the client and her
husband as being in pro per and provided a false address under their names. He never told
the client the complaint was filed, and the client never authorized filing the complaint
designating her as in pro per.
The complaint was dismissed, but the client never was notified
because of the false address.
According to the bar charges, Bahinipaty charged another client
$25,000 in advanced fees and informed her four months later that her lawsuit was filed.
Four months after that, when the client called about the case, Bahinipaty told her the
advance fees were exhausted by 165 hours of legal work at $250 per hour.
When a trial date was set, the bar alleged, Bahinipaty asked his
client for $1,000 to have an expert review her medical files. The client refused to pay
any additional money, and no expert was hired.
When a new attorney was hired, the bar said, he discovered that
Bahinipaty may have performed four to six hours of work on the case and that the file
consisted primarily of documents provided by the client and her husband.
In another matter charged by the bar, Bahinipaty represented a woman
in a medical malpractice case. Her boyfriend then hired Bahinipaty to represent him a
lawsuit stemming from injuries he received during a fire at his girlfriends
residence. Without either persons authorization or waiver of conflict of interest,
Bahinipaty filed a lawsuit by the boyfriend against his girlfriend. Although the man
advised Bahinipaty he did not wish to pursue the suit, it remains active and has not been
The bar also charged Bahinipaty with misconduct in several cases
involving the same family: two separate medical malpractice actions on behalf of both the
husband and his mother-in-law, a personal injury claim for the wife, and a Social Security
claim for the husband.
According to the bar, Bahinipaty settled the personal injury claim
without the wifes authorization, forged a settlement check for $4,396, and kept the
funds, claiming he had performed a substantial amount of work on the social security
He allegedly gave the husbands medical malpractice matter to
another attorney without his consent. The clients did not know a motion for summary
judgment had been filed and the case lost. Bahinipaty allegedly blamed the loss on the
other attorney and refused to refund $15,000 in advance fees.
The bar also charges that Bahinipaty never provided a fee agreement
to the mother-in-law and never filed a complaint in that matter. Further, it charges that
he made sexual advances towards the wife during the time her husbands case was
In another case, the bar charged that Bahinipaty filed a declaration
purportedly by a physician opposing a motion for summary judgment. In fact, the doctor
said his opinion was the opposite of that presented. Bahinipaty then allegedly designated
another doctor as a supportive expert, but failed to obtain a declaration from the doctor.
Summary judgment was granted and sanctions of more than $5,000 were imposed on Bahinipaty.
The bar sought Bahinipatys inactive enrollment because his
conduct overwhelmingly demonstrates a pattern of deceitful, harmful and illegal
behaviors. Prosecutors expressed fear that his conduct posed a substantial
threat of harm to clients and the public.