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Attorney Fined in an Ice Cold Confrontation

— January 31, 2017

Attorney Valeria Calafiore fined after flinging a cup of iced coffee at her opposing counsel, Thomas Wallerstein, during deposition.

Adults, not just children, have been known to lose their temper from time to time.  After all, it can be difficult to maintain a level head amid a verbal attack from an opposing party. However, most individuals, especially if in a professional setting, will take a step back, review the situation, apologize and move on.  Certainly, throwing a beverage at an opponent takes an argument to the next level.  This simply isn’t acceptable behavior and should be fined.

Attorney Valeria Calafiore Healy did just that.  In the middle of a court room, during deposition, Healy flung iced coffee at her opposing counsel, Thomas Wallerstein, after he continued to ask her to be quiet.  She lost her cool, flinging the drink, and damaging Wallerstein’s clothing and personal belongings.  The matter was taken up by U.S. Magistrate Judge Donna Ryu, who was tasked with issuing an order of judgment and determining what the attorney should be fined, if appropriate.

Image Courtesy of Cook Diary
Image Courtesy of Cook Diary

According to Healy, the cup of coffee was slammed on the table, not thrown into the air. She said that coffee flung from the container when she did so, stating, “I became upset and slammed my coffee cup on the table, causing the remains of my two hour old iced coffee to spill over the table and allegedly over Mr. Wallerstein’s jeans, even though I was not close to Mr. Wallerstein.”  She says she felt disrespected by Wallerstein’s repeated attempts to quiet her, which she felt were unwarranted.

However, Wallerstein maintains the beverage was thrown directly at him after Healy cursed at him.  Ryu agreed with Wallerstein, believing this was indeed the case, further indicating that Healy refused to take responsibility for her shocking behavior.  Ryu’s order states Healy not only committed the offense, but refused to apologize, which could have saved an order from having to be issued.  Had she taken a moment to recognize the misbehavior and take responsibility for it, there wouldn’t have been a need for the court to take action.

Image Courtesy of Flickr
Image Courtesy of Flickr

Evidently, Wallerstein and Healy have had their run ins in the past, which are often contentious.  The two are said to lure each other into arguments with detrimental outcomes.  Ryu pointed out that Wallerstein should not have gotten involved in the first place, allowing Healy to handle her witness as she saw fit, and that in doing so he overstepped boundaries.  However, Healy’s response took the interaction one step further and was simply uncalled for.  

The order, which refers to the exchange as a “heated business dispute” clearly states that the deposition resumed and, “In response to Wallerstein’s questions about what had just happened, Pieraccini [the witness] responded that Healy ‘somehow felt insulted’ and ‘threw a cup of coffee’ in Wallerstein’s direction'”.  Healy was fined $250 for the offense. Ryu, who is overseeing discovery in the matter, indicated that additional sanctions may be warranted for Healy’s outburst.  The behavior, according to Ryu, has become a pattern, and the order states Healy has engaged in “repeated inappropriate conduct”.  However, the Judge is deferring the decision for any further ramifications to a federal judge who is overseeing the case.


Lawyer is sanctioned $250 for flinging coffee toward opposing counsel during deposition

Attorney Accused Of Hurling Coffee At Opposing Counsel During Tense Deposition

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