Disciplinary Reporter Case Digest

Attorney ID 0
Attorney Name Anonymous,    
DBP Docket No. 103 DB 1998
Supreme Court Docket No. N/A
Disciplinary Counsel Patti S. Bednarik
Counsel for Respondent
Decision Date 2001-10-11
Effective Date 2002-02-19
Case Digest This case involved neglect, lack of communication and misrepresentations to hide the fact that the case had been dismissed. The complainants, two farmers, fed their cattle defective grain, which caused illness in their herds and substantial financial losses. The complainants retained Respondent to pursue a lawsuit against the grain supplier. In 1986, the attorney filed suit against the grain supplier seeking damages of in excess of $250,000, plus future losses, interest and costs of suit. Respondent failed to provide discovery to defense counsel, and failed to conduct discovery on his clients’ behalf. The case was placed on the purge list in 1989, 1990 and 1991. Each time that the case was placed on the purge list, Respondent filed objections to dismissal. No docket activity occurred in the two years that the case was placed on the purge list. The complainants repeatedly called respondent to find out the status of this matter, but Respondent would just tell them that he was working on the case, and he would let them know if he needed additional information. By order dated November 1991, the judge determined that notwithstanding respondent's objections to the termination of the case, the case was terminated with prejudice for lack of docket activity. Fifteen months after the case was dismissed, Respondent wrote to the FHA and misrepresented the status of the case by informing them that he was in the process of finalizing discovery. Respondent also informed the complainants that he was still working on the case over two years after it had been dismissed. When the complainants found out their case had been dismissed, they filed a legal malpractice lawsuit against respondent, which settled. MITIGATING FACTORS Respondent cooperated with Disciplinary Counsel, stipulated to the facts, and had no prior disciplinary history. Complainants advised counsel for the Petitioner that they believe “Respondent has suffered enough for his mistakes in representing them.” The Complainants explained that respondent agreed to pay them as much as he could financially muster ($60,000) since he didn’t have malpractice insurance. They reasoned that the Respondent would need his law license to earn a living given the amount of the settlement that he paid.
Rule Violation(s) 1.3, 1.4(a), 1.4(b), 4.1(a) and 8.4(c)
Discipline Imposed Private reprimand after formal hearing
Points of Law None.
Report/Opinion not available