Wednesday, May 11, 2022
The Illinois Administrator has filed a complaint alleging that the attorney negotiated a settlement for a deceased personal injury client
Upon Moon’s death, the attorney-client relationship between Moon and [Respondent's firm] DLG ended, and Respondent no longer had authority to act on Moon’s behalf. Rather, Moon’s family could pursue Moon’s claim through a representative of his estate appointed by the probate court. Without the opening of an estate, the appointment of a personal representative, and that person’s retention of Respondent to pursue the claim on behalf of the estate, Respondent had no authority to act on Moon’s behalf following his death.
On November 6, 2017, Respondent reviewed information regarding Moon’s medical treatment so that he could prepare a demand. That same day, an employee of DLG sent Respondent an email in which he told Respondent, “[t]he Client is dead so we cannot contact him directly.”
The demand letter allegedly went out two days later
In that letter Respondent made a purported settlement demand of $245,000. Respondent demanded that amount from TGIC for Moon’s injuries and for “future pain and physical limitations” and for injuries “which will likely result in significant arthritis.”
On December 20, 2017, TGIC submitted a $50,000 settlement counteroffer to Respondent. Respondent could not present the $50,000 counteroffer to Moon because he was deceased.
Respondent accepted the offer
On December 27, 2017, Respondent sent an email to Larry Disparti and other employees of DLG in which he reported that he had settled Moon’s claim. In his email, Respondent stated the following: “Settled $60,000. Client is dead from unrelated cause. Settled without adj knowledge of death.” In that email, Respondent was referring to TGIC when he referred to the adjuster, or “adj.”
An independent administrator was appointed for Moon's estate, who tried to enforce the settlement
As a result of Respondent’s false statements to TGIC, TGIC refused to settle the claim against it for $60,000, or for any amount.