June 13, 2008
Disbarment For Misappropriation
The Ohio Supreme Court rejected a proposed indefinite suspension and imposed permanent disbarment in a case involving misconduct in three matters. The court's web page summarizes the misconduct as follows:
in one case, Mason mishandled and misappropriated funds from a $13,750 settlement he received on behalf of a personal injury client. The Court found that Mason not only deducted from the settlement proceeds $4,583 to which he was entitled as a contingent fee, but also paid from the client’s proceeds a $2,025 fee to another attorney that should have come from Mason’s fee. The court also found that Mason failed to pay a $2,800 medical bill from the settlement proceeds despite telling the client he had done so, delayed for eight months in sending the client any portion of the settlement, and ultimately sent her a check for $4,091 that was returned unpaid because it was written on a non-existent bank account. The client never recovered any of the settlement proceeds, and had her wages garnished to pay the medical bill that Mason falsely stated he had paid on her behalf.
In two other instances, the Court found that Mason accepted fee advances from clients facing criminal charges but then abandoned their cases and failed to respond to their attempts to contact him without any notice and without returning their unearned fees. In one case, a trial court issued an arrest warrant for Mason’s client when neither he nor Mason appeared for a pretrial hearing about which the client had never been informed.
Misappropriation was found to require disbarment, rather than suspension. (Mike Frisch)
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