CSB-2008-106 Christopher Nolan, Springfield, MA (Suspended)
Mr. Nolan filed a personal injury suit on behalf of claimant in December 2001 in Hampden County Housing Court. After considerable sparring between the parties over discovery issues, the court dismissed claimant’s action in January 2005 for counsel’s failure to comply with discovery orders. In connection with Mr. Nolan’s administrative suspension, Bar Counsel, in December 2006, required him to withdraw his appearance on behalf of claimant. Mr. Nolan complied, but did so while creating the impression that the suit was still an active, pending matter. In January 2007, Mr. Nolan delivered claimant’s file to another lawyer who had taken an interest in claimant’s predicament. That lawyer, after reviewing the file, declined to represent claimant in a malpractice action against Mr. Nolan. A second lawyer similarly declined. The Board unanimously found that Mr. Nolan’s conduct was negligence or malpractice and that there was no evidence of a defalcation. As a consequence, no award was made to claimant.
CSB-2008-057 Wild Chang, Rowland Heights, CA (Suspended)
Claimant, a 48-year-old, mentally and physically disabled sometime inventor and composer, lived with his elderly parents in Tustin, California. In December 2000, federal agents arrested claimant for allegedly sending a letter to the FBI threatening the life of a famous rock singer’s daughter for stealing claimant’s song lyrics. Claimant was indicted and remained in custody for 41 days before the indictment was dismissed in February 2001. No further prosecutorial action was taken. In October 2002, claimant retained Mr. Chang to represent him in seeking redress for the wrongful imprisonment and paid him a $1,600 retainer. Mr. Chang did not deposit claimants’ check into his IOLTA but instead negotiated it for cash and never performed any services on claimant’s behalf. In May 2003, claimant met with Mr. Chang to express concern about the pace of progress on his case. Mr. Chang persuaded claimant there was no statute of limitations problem because of claimant’s medical incapacity and requested an additional $1,000 retainer which claimant paid and for which Mr. Chang issued a crude, handwritten receipt on yellow legal paper. In June 2003, claimant asked for a refund of his retainer but received neither the retainer nor an accounting for it. Mr. Chang was a member of the Bars of Massachusetts and New York but was not admitted in California. Although Mr. Chang maintained no office in Massachusetts, the Board concluded that but for his Massachusetts admission, Mr. Chang could not have held himself out as a lawyer to claimant. The Board found a defalcation and awarded claimant $2,600.
CSB-2008-012 Ronald Gary Pinson, Milton, MA (Disbarred)
Claimant was injured in an auto accident on May 21, 2006 and retained Mr. Pinson for a 1/3 contingent fee to recover money damages for her. In December 2006, Mr. Pinson settled the claim for $6,500, received a check (payable to claimant, Mr. Pinson, and two medical providers) and deposited it to his IOLTA account on December 18, 2006. Bar Counsel's account analysis shows no disbursement from the IOLTA to claimant. Mr. Pinson applied claimant's funds to an unauthorized use. The insurer told claimant that Mr. Pinson requested that the medical providers be included as co-payees. The Board found a defalcation and made an award of $4,333.34.
CSB-2009-026 Ronald Gary Pinson, Milton, MA (Disbarred)
After injuring claimant in an auto accident on May 10, 2006, the other driver fled the scene. Claimant retained Mr. Pinson for a 1/3 contingent fee and gave him a very broad POA. In November 2006, Mr. Pinson settled the uninsured motorist claim for $3,500, received a check and deposited it to his IOLTA account on November 14, 2006. Bar Counsel's account analysis shows no disbursement from the IOLTA to claimant. Mr. Pinson applied claimant's funds to an unauthorized use. Claimant introduced a complication when she filed a Ch. 7 (no asset) bankruptcy petition in August 2008 and did not list this claim against Mr. Pinson. Creditors’ trustee confirmed that any award would have been exempt from creditors' claims. The Board found a defalcation and awarded $2,333.34.
CSB-2008-081 Ronald Gary Pinson, Milton, MA (Disbarred)
Claimant and another driver collided in August 2006. Claimant retained Mr. Pinson for a 1/3 contingent fee and gave him a very broad POA. In January 2007, well into the disciplinary process, Mr. Pinson settled the claim for $6,300, endorsed claimant's name on the check and used the entire amount for his own purposes. The Board found a defalcation and awarded $4,200.
CSB-2008-094 Raymond A. Desautels, Oxford, MA (Disbarred)
Claimants engaged Mr. Desautels in late February 2008 to file for bankruptcy protection and paid him $2,000. On February 14, 2008, the U.S. filed a complaint against Mr. Desautels charging him with two counts of wire fraud. On June 24, 2008, Mr. Desautels pleaded guilty to both counts and sentencing is set for October 29, 2009. Mr. Desautels did nothing for claimants and never accounted for or returned the $2,000. Claimants retained substitute counsel to assist them with their bankruptcy and received a discharge in October 2008. Although they did not list their claim against Mr. Desautels as an asset of their estate, claimants' counsel confirmed that they used only $17,400 of their $22,400 of wildcard exemptions and, therefore, could have included this claim as an exempt asset. The Board found a defalcation and awarded $2,000.
CSB-2008-076 Raymond A. Desautels, Oxford, MA (Disbarred)
Claimant engaged Mr. Desautels in March 2008 to help him file either a Ch. 7 or Ch. 13 petition and paid him $1,200. One month earlier, in February 2008, the U.S. filed a complaint against Mr. Desautels charging him with two counts of wire fraud. On June 24, 2008, Mr. Desautels plead guilty to both counts and sentencing is set for October 29, 2009. Mr. Desautels did nothing for claimant and never accounted for or returned the $1,200. Claimant retained substitute counsel to file a Ch.13 proceeding. The Board found a defalcation and awarded $1,200.
CSB-2008-070 Raymond A. Desautels, Oxford, MA (Disbarred)
Claimant engaged Mr. Desautels in July 2007 to help her with a real estate dispute and paid him $1,500 retainer. Claimant heard nothing from Mr. Desautels until she received a letter from a Worcester lawyer in April 2008, explaining that Mr. Desautels had closed his practice. Claimant retained that lawyer and was forced to pay him another $1,500 because Mr. Desautels did not transfer claimant's retainer to him. Mr. Desautels did nothing for claimant and never accounted for or returned the $1,500. He pleaded guilty to two counts of federal wire fraud with sentencing scheduled for October 29, 2009. The Board found a defalcation and awarded $1,500.