Belli Fined $5,000 for Suit on Behalf of Deceased Plaintiff
San Francisco attorney Melvin Belli and another lawyer have been fined $5,000 each by a federal judge for filing suit in the Dupont Plaza Hotel fire case on behalf of a man who died 12 years before the 1986 blaze.
U.S. District Judge Raymond Acosta imposed the sanction on Belli and Richard Brown, a lawyer in Belli’s firm, ordered them to pay the $5,000 fine by Jan. 13 and dismissed their claim filed for Balerian Andino Ferrer, who died in 1974.
“Before filing, Messrs. Belli and Brown failed to conduct any type of inquiry as to a fundamental prerequisite for Mr. Andino’s claim: that he be alive,” Acosta wrote in his Wednesday order.
The lawyers “have acted in a manner that is inexcusable in any case and especially unjustifiable in this complex case,” Acosta said.
Andino’s wife, Juanita Roman Ramos, sought damages in June, 1987, for alleged injuries arising from the Dec. 31, 1986, arson fire at the Dupont Plaza Hotel, in which 97 people were killed and more than 140 injured.