State bar court dismisses disciplinary matter against Oakland attorney

By Karen Kidd | Sep 13, 2017

Disciplinary claims against Oakland attorney Peter Yeu Lee Chao, charged with presenting an unwarranted claim and maintaining an unjust action during a protracted civil litigation, have been dismissed, according to a recent California State Bar filing.

While the state bar court said Chao's conduct in the case "raises questions regarding his legal competence", the evidence presented did not back up the allegations against him, according to the court's decision and order of dismissal issued Aug. 4. Multiple demurrers and a motion for summary judgment were granted against Chao’s client in the civil litigation, in which Chao later was sanctioned for filing a frivolous appeal, according to the 14-page decision and order.

The state bar court dismissed the contested disciplinary matter with prejudice and exonerated Chao on all charges, according to the decision and order.

Chao was admitted to the bar in California on June 16, 1988, according to his profile at the state bar website. Chao has no discipline before the state bar listed on his profile.

The state bar's office of chief trial counsel’s proceedings against Chao, in initiated in late December, arose from a personal injury lawsuit in Santa Clara County Superior Court in which Chao's client sought $1.8 million in damages after losing most of a finger following an on-the-job accident in January 2010.

The case continued in superior court into 2014, was dismissed and appealed. In February 2016, the appeals court affirmed the lower court's ruling and ordered Chao to pay $6,000 in sanctions to the opposing side "to recompense them for the attorney’s fees they have incurred in responding to the frivolous appeal," the decision and order said.

Chao's client ultimately received a workers’ compensation settlement of $15,683.

The state bar court cited what it called Chao's "less than stellar work on behalf of his client," failing to appear during at least two hearings and filing "cursory documents which appeared to be hastily written and generally devoid of any relevant authority," the decision and order said. The court also said the evidence presented was not enough to sustain the disciplinary claims allegations against Chao, according to the order decision and order.

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Santa Clara County Superior Court State Bar Court of California

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