Lawyer Let Go After Obscene Rant Captured On Video



Losing your temper at work can happen. But if you spew epithets and your tantrum is caught on video, you should probably expect there to be consequences. So perhaps it's not surprising that after an attorney's obscene tirade was captured on video, according to New York's Daily News, his client -- a school board -- would remove him as counsel and his firm would resign from the account.

Christopher Kirby, of Valley Stream, N.Y.-based firm Minerva & D'Agostino, told a parent to "shut up" during what became a contentious meeting of the East Ramapo Central School District in Rockland County, N.Y., which is about 15 miles from Manhattan. Afterward, he indulged in the not-safe-for-work meltdown, which included calling a parent a "fat c---." It also was captured on video. The board finally took action nearly a week later, but that was only after the four-minute video was posted online Wednesday.

It all began during a July 2 school board meeting that was videotaped and posted to YouTube. According to that video, Peggy Hatton, the mother of a special-education student in the high school, addressed what she deemed poor communication on the part of the district. Hatton then complained that Kirby was "smirking" at her. He left and then returned, and Hatton complained that Kirby was again smirking, at which point Kirby said, "Oh, would you please shut up, for Christ's sake."

In the YouTube video, no one on the board appeared to take any action. Another parent insisted that Kirby leave. The lawyer said, "I'll smirk if I want to. I'll laugh if I want to." As Hatton tried to address the board on her original point, he added, "I'm still smirking." She burst into tears while the board remained silent.

The interaction continued and escalated outside, in the parking lot, and was captured on video. Kirby can be seen cursing at a number of parents and appeared to try to goad one of the fathers into a fistfight. Then he called Hatton fat and hurled at her the offensive term for female genitalia.

Controversy has dogged Minerva & D'Agostino. In April, a student claimed that Albert D'Agostino, one of the firm's major partners, "verbally abused" a student at a March 5 school rally. Three years ago, D'Agostino reportedly had a verbal fight with a graduate of the school system during a school board meeting. But those interactions weren't captured on video.

Less than a week after the July 2 incident, and after 200 parents held an outside demonstration, the East Ramapo Central School District board said that Kirby would no longer do work for it. D'Agostino and his associates billed $250 an hour and $125 an hour for travel, according to USA Today.

Was Kirby fired from the firm? Kirby is not listed now on the firm's roster of attorneys on its site. But no one from Minerva & D'Agostino responded to an AOL Jobs interview request.

The Daily News reported that during a July 8 meeting the board said that it would replace Minerva & D'Agostino as its law firm:

"We disassociate ourselves with his actions and his words," board President Yehuda Weissmandl said at Monday night's meeting, to triumphant applause from parents and students.

Some parents who attended the meeting disputed that report, however. "What it sounded like to me [during the July 8 meeting] was that the firm itself said that it no longer had the wherewithal to serve the board without Mr. Kirby, so they in effect are canceling their work for the board," said parent Chana Wiesenthal Elias to AOL Jobs. "There was no timeline and no reaching out to the parents to, say, help in the process of finding new counsel ... and no public apology."

According to reporting by the Rockland County Times, there are concerns that a new firm, to be recommended by Minerva & D'Agostino, could have some kind of relationship with the old one. The East Ramapo Central School District supervisor also did not respond to an AOL Jobs interview request.

If Kirby was fired, it would be far from the first time that it came after being caught on video doing something others found offensive. In March, James Olmstead, an adjunct professor at the University of Oregon School of Law was fired after his bizarre rant at a student protest was captured on video and posted to the Web. When video cameras are only a cell phone away, chances are good that the Internet could wind up seeing everything. And sometimes, that can be a good thing.


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Erik Sherman

Erik Sherman

Contributor

Erik Sherman is a widely published writer and editor who also does select ghosting and corporate work. Follow him on Twitter at @ErikSherman

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52 Comments

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toilbaby

Behind every bully is the perfect coward. And the other on the board not speaking up for this poor woman are as despicable. Lodie

July 10 2013 at 4:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
chckpope

Be warned this video contains graphic language? I'll I heard was BEEEEEP!

July 10 2013 at 2:39 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to chckpope's comment
Carlos The Great

Disappointing wasn't it?

July 11 2013 at 8:28 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Christopher Parks

I watched the video and unfortunately I didnt see him smirk until after that woman blew up at him (camera wasn't on him). She was over-reacting and he reacted. He reacted poorly but this woman went crazy then apparently chased him into the parking lot to harass him.

July 10 2013 at 1:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Christopher Parks's comment
gbaker9916

I didn't see where he was acting any worse than the woman confronting him.

July 10 2013 at 10:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Carlos The Great

He's a lawyer for Christ's sakes, he should know better than to resort to the 'c' word with cameras on him. He's a d-bag and deserved to get fired.

July 11 2013 at 8:27 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Billy

He needs a good ass beating. 10-4

July 10 2013 at 1:32 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
wongtpa

Remember what Shakespear said!

July 10 2013 at 12:38 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
ReallyBigPixie

This "esteemed gentlemen" and his employers need to grow up, learn some manners and a good bit of diplomacy.

July 10 2013 at 12:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
mdennish

I did not hear any curse words. but I did hear a lot of F%#*ing bleeps.

July 10 2013 at 12:13 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
bb040

this is why lawers are snakes in the grass..id bet money that he is the kind who would use his skills to get even with these people..we have enough asses like this to go around for every man ,woman ,and child in the country ..which brings to mind an EAGLE's song

July 10 2013 at 12:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
nrlhortarb

I dont know what everybodys mad about. I didnt hear a single curse word.

July 10 2013 at 12:06 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
knorman1969

Why do some other people think they can say what they want with no ramifacations. If you don't want to be confronted don't start it.

July 10 2013 at 12:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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