Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Thy Brother's Former Wife

The Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board has recommended the disbarment of an attorney whose brother had died while overseas working as a contractor for Halliburton Company. The lawyer induced his brother's former wife to execute an assigment of rights paying life insurance proceeds to himself. The lawyer felt that the former wife should not receive the proceeds because she had divorced the brother and was living with another man. The lawyer presented her with the assignment that he had drafted on the day before the funeral.

The lawyer had induced the former wife (who he thought was a named beneficiary) to accept $25,000 for a policy later determined to be worth $818,000. He failed to advise her what he believed the policy to be worth. He then received the proceeds (which he split with two siblings) and, later, represented the former wife in unrelated proceedings. She sued him when she became aware of the full amount of the policy. The suit is pending.

In the disciplinary case, the lawyer had denied any wrongdoing ("...I've run it over a million times in my mind I promise you, and I don't think I would have done anything different.") He also claimed to be judgment proof, having gambled the proceeds away. (Mike Frisch)


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>>>Landra Hutton testified that Mr. Hutton presented the assignment of rights to her as a means for funding Steven Hutton’s funeral, and the document would serve as a guarantee to the funeral home for payment. She further testified that she did not understand the rights she was signing away, and that Mr. Hutton did not explain them to her, nor did he inform her that he believed the policy payout would be over $800,000.00. Acknowledging that she did not read the document before signing it, Ms. Hutton reiterated that she nevertheless signed it because she wanted Steven Hutton’s funeral expenses to be paid.

Mr. Hutton offered no evidence to rebut Landra Hutton’s testimony on many of the circumstances which she recounted when he presented the assignment to her. Mr. Hutton in fact admitted that he did not tell Landra what he believed Steven’s life insurance was worth. Mr. Hutton countered only that she should be found lacking in credibility for reasons such as she was married four times. The Committee indicated it had evaluated both Landra Hutton’s testimony and Adam Hutton’s testimony, and found Landra’s to be more credible. Moreover, Mr. Hutton’s own testimony, while not as detailed on the particulars of how he convinced Landra Hutton to sign the release, is consistent with Landra Hutton’s testimony regarding the transaction. Therefore, the Board expressly finds that Mr. Hutton presented the assignment of rights to Landra Hutton as a means for funding Steven Hutton’s funeral, and that he indicated the document would serve as a guarantee to the funeral home for payment. <<<

Wow. Just wow.


Posted by: FixedWing | Jun 2, 2009 1:25:41 PM

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