96 N.J.L.J. 649
May 31, 1973
Conflict of Interest
Health Board Attorney Suing Municipalities
An inquiry has been presented as to whether an attorney may represent a local board of health when at the same time in pending
litigation he represents municipal officials who are being sued in their individual capacities. Said attorney has crossclaimed against the municipality on behalf of his clients for indemnification and legal fees. The inquirer states that in the municipality involved the board of health is an "entity distinct from the municipality from which it is established."
It is the opinion of this Committee that the attorney may not become legal counsel to the board of health under these circumstances. The fact that the board of health may be a separate entity does not in any way affect the final result In the pending litigation he is attempting to collect monies from the municipality, which means ultimately the taxpayers. If at the same time he represents the board of health, whether through a distinct and separate conduit or not, he will nevertheless be receiving legal fees ultimately from the same source, the taxpayers. The rationale and philosophy have already been covered in this Committee's Opinions 19 and 20, 86 N.J.L.J. 734 (1963) and Opinion 24, 87 N.J.L.J. 19 (1964). It would appear that in this instance there is an obvious conflict of interest.