June 3, 2011
Probation Rather Than Suspension
The Nebraska Supreme Court imposed probation of two years in a matter involving failure to pay State Farm for its subrogation interest in the proceeds of a personal injury settlement. The court rejected the claim by disciplinary counsel that the sanction was unduly lenient.
The distribution of settlement proceeds took place in February 2008. The attorney testified that he wrote the check to State Farm. He learned from State Farm that they had not been paid, but "was erroneously told [by the bank] that the check had cleared. [He] took not further action concerning [the] matter."
State Farm complained to the Bar and eventually was paid.
The attorney admitted that he did not hold sufficient funds in escrow to pay the amount owed. He explained that he was experiencing health issues and "wasn't thinking clearly" after his fiance died. He conceded that he had "dropped the ball."
If the attorney commits further rule violations, "he would be subject to suspension or disbarment." (Mike Frisch)
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