Friday, January 11, 2019

Missing In Action

The Kansas Supreme Court has disbarred an attorney who accepted and neglected a personal injury claim.

He made himself unavailable to the clients, as reflected by the hearing committee findings

The respondent failed to inform W.D. that he moved his office to another location. On his own, W.D. learned that the respondent had moved his office to 810 Pennsylvania, Lawrence.

W.D. or K.D. called the respondent weekly, but were not able to make contact with him. At some point, the respondent's voicemail box was full.

During the fall of 2015, they left notes on the door of the respondent's office because when they would attempt to locate him in his office, he was never present. They contacted the manager of the building where the respondent's office was located, but they were not able to obtain information on how to get in touch with the respondent.

In February 2016, W.D. and K.D. sent a letter to the respondent via certified mail, return receipt requested. The letter eventually came back as unclaimed because it was not picked up by the respondent.

The complaint followed these efforts and response was not forthcoming

In June 2016, Special Investigator William Delaney contacted the respondent at his home. The respondent claimed that he had not received the complaint, but that he would respond. While the respondent provided Mr. Delaney with W.D.'s client file, respondent never provided a response to the complaint.

He had filed the civil case after the statute of limitations ran

The respondent's misconduct was motivated by dishonesty. The respondent failed to inform W.D. that he had not filed the case timely. The respondent falsely told W.D. and K.D. that the case was progressing. The respondent falsely told opposing counsel that the suit had been timely filed and that there was a 'glitch' in the clerk's office. Accordingly, the hearing panel concludes that the respondent's misconduct was motivated by dishonesty.

And had prior discipline leading to suspension

On December 23, 2016, the Supreme Court suspended the respondent's license to practice law for a period of one year for violating Rules 1.3 (diligence), 1.4 (communication), 1.5 (fees), 1.15 (safeguarding property), 1.16 (termination of representation), 8.1 (cooperation), 8.4 (professional misconduct), 207 (cooperation), and 211 (failure to file an answer to the formal complaint).

The court

The only remaining issue before us is the appropriate discipline for respondent's violations. At the panel hearing, the Disciplinary Administrator recommended disbarment. In its final hearing report, the panel agreed with the Disciplinary Administrator and recommended disbarment. At the hearing before this court, the Disciplinary Administrator continues to recommend disbarment. Respondent did not appear. We have previously held: "Certainly, the lack of an appearance at a hearing before this court qualifies as an additional aggravator." In re Barker, 302 Kan. 156, 163, 351 P.3d 1256 (2015); see Kansas Supreme Court Rule 212(d) (respondent shall appear in person in disciplinary proceedings before the Supreme Court).

Oral argument (a trifle one sided, as Major Strasser would say) linked here. (Mike Frisch)

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/legal_profession/2019/01/the-kansas-supreme-court-has-disbarred-an-attorney-who-accepted-and-neglected-a-personal-injury-claim-he-made-himself-unava.html

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