SAN DIEGO - A wheelchair-bound attorney known for crippling small businesses in San Diego County by filing lawsuits over their access for disabled people is being disbarred for violating professional standards, it was reported Wednesday.
Theodore Pinnock pleaded no contest in State Bar Court to allegations that he filed dozens of lawsuits on a client's behalf without her knowledge, then used her share of the settlement money to pay his own expenses, according to U-T San Diego.
The unsuspecting client, Noni Gotti of San Diego, has hired a new lawyer, David Warren Peters, who estimated the total settlement amount that Pinnock pocketed reached into six figures, the newspaper reported.
Online court records show Pinnock has been party to dozens of lawsuits filed in San Diego Superior Court and hundreds more in federal court. His name also appears as an attorney in more than 1,000 federal cases filed in San Diego and Imperial counties. Peters said Pinnock also filed lawsuits in Los Angeles and Orange counties.
Over the years, several small business owners have spoken out against Pinnock, describing his tactics as essentially extortion. Alpine Fence owner William Lepetri told U-T San Diego that he received a letter some time ago, informing him that Pinnock had visited the fencing business and suffered an injury because it did not comply with access regulations like those specified in the federal Americans with Disabilities Act.
Lepetri said after talking to his lawyer, he paid Pinnock more than $6,300 to settle the case to avoid a court battle, then made improvements to his business even though he was sure Pinnock has never actually visited Alpine Fence.