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Case Abstracts for matters heard in October of 2008

CSB-2008-13 Kevin F. Carey, Medford, MA (Disbarred)BR>In March 2004, claimants sold their Dorchester multi-unit property for $535,000.  Claimants and Mr. Carey never had a lawyer–client relationship and they were not represented by counsel at the closing.  Mr. Carey was the closing lawyer representing the buyer’s lender and as such failed to deliver to claimants their net closing proceeds of $110,539.85.  As the closing attorney, Mr. Carey had a fiduciary responsibility to disburse the correct amounts to the appropriate parties to the transaction, including claimants.  At the time of the hearing, Mr. Carey faced eight Superior Court charges of felony larceny and seven charges of publishing a false financial statement.  The Board found a defalcation and awarded claimants $110,539.85.

CSB-2008-048 James Russell Hodgdon, Norwell, MA (Disbarred)
Claimant suffered personal injuries in an August 2004 auto accident and retained Mr. Hodgdon in October 2004 in a one-third contingent fee arrangement.  After an initial $15,000 demand letter to the insurer, Mr. Hodgdon settled for $9,000, $800 of which would be paid directly a medical lienholder.  Claimant signed a release agreeing with the settlement.  In May 2007, the insurer sent an $8,200 check directly to Mr. Hodgdon who, on May 23, 2007, deposited the check into his IOLTA.  Mr. Hodgdon never paid claimant his share of the settlement and never accounted for the funds.  The Board found a defalcation and awarded claimant $6,000.00. 

CSB-2008-002 Stafford Sheehan, Fall River, MA (Disbarred)
Mr. Sheehan represented claimant to collect a debt.  After declaring retired status in November 2006, Mr. Sheehan referred claimant to another lawyer who settled the case.  Without claimant’s authorization, successor counsel delivered to Mr. Sheehan a check payable to claimant for $34,246.77.  Mr. Sheehan endorsed claimants’s name on the check, deposited the funds into his IOLTA account and used a portion of the funds to reimburse an estate from which he had earlier misappropriated funds.  Mr. Sheehan reimbursed $19,271.59 to claimant leaving a shortfall of $10,975.18.  The disciplinary hearing committee found that although Mr. Sheehan was retired from the practice of law, he clearly continued to give post-retirement legal advice on behalf of claimant.  The Board found a defalcation and awarded claimant $10,975.18. 

CSB-2008-006 Richard William Kelly, Weymouth, MA (Disbarred)
In April 2002, the guardian of claimant’s grandmother issued a $10,000 check to claimant (and to several other family members as part of the grandmother’s estate planning) but sent it to claimant’s former address.  Claimant asked (and paid) Mr. Kelly to contact the guardian and inquire about the status of the check.  The guardian stopped payment on the first check; issued a second check to claimant; but mailed it to Mr. Kelly.  Without notice to or permission from claimant, Mr. Kelly endorsed claimant’s name on the check and deposited the check into his IOLTA account in July 2002.  In September 2002, Mr. Kelly admitted to claimant that he had taken his funds and offered to repay him.  After paying $2,000 to claimant, Mr. Kelly stopped and never resumed payments.  The Board found a defalcation and awarded claimant $8,000.00. 

CSB-2008-018 Gerard E. Battista, Jr., Norwell, MA (Disbarred)
In October 2004, claimants paid $4,059 to Mr. Battista for financial assistance with their debts and for estate planning services.  Mr. Battista recorded a Declaration of Homestead; drafted a Living Trust; but failed to transfer to the Trust the title to their home.  According to claimants and successor counsel, Mr. Battista performed few, if any, of the services he itemized.  Mr. Battista also advised claimants to give him their $30,419.54 tax refund check so he could pay some of their medical and dental bills while they were in Florida.  Because medical providers continued to provide service to claimants they assumed that their bills were paid.  On October 24, 2005, Mr. Battista returned $18,883.54 to claimants’ daughter saying that this was the balance left after paying claimants’ medical bills.  Mr. Battista filed a bankruptcy petition for claimants on June 15, 2005 showing $284,386.19 in secured debt (home mortgage, auto loan, and equity line of credit); $33,508 of credit card debt; $3,659.33 in income; and $3,579.91 in expenses.  Claimants received a discharge on January 6, 2006.  Concerned about what appears to have been the concealment of more than $18,000 (the amount Mr. Battista gave to claimants’ daughter) from claimants’ bankruptcy estate, the Board determined that there was no reimbursable loss and made no award.

CSB-2008-009 Ronald Gary Pinson, Milton, MA (Disbarred)
In August 2006, claimant, while stopped for a stop light, was struck from the rear by another driver.  She experienced head, neck and back pain but required neither hospitalization nor surgery.  She signed a 1/3 contingent fee agreement with Mr. Pinson and gave him a very broad Power of Attorney.  He settled her claim in February 2007, endorsed claimant's name on the check and used the entire amount for his own purposes.  The Board found a defalcation and awarded claimant $4,900.

CSB-2008-028 Ronald Gary Pinson, Milton, MA (Disbarred)
In July 2006, claimant was injured in an auto collision with another driver.  Although he was treated and released from the ER, claimant required two months of physical therapy to deal with persistent back and neck pain.  In September 2006 claimant retained Mr. Pinson for a 1/3 contingent fee and gave him a very broad Power of Attorney.  In December 2006, Mr. Pinson settled the claim for $2,200 without claimant's authorization, endorsed his name on the January 2007 check and used the entire amount for his own purposes.  The Board found a defalcation; found that Mr. Pinson sold the claim short (thus eliminating "credit" for Mr. Pinson’s legal fee); and awarded claimant $2,200.

CSB-2008-050 Ronald Gary Pinson, Milton, MA (Disbarred)
After claimant was injured in a June 2006 auto collision he retained Mr. Pinson for a 1/3 contingent fee and gave him a very broad Power of Attorney.  In January 2007, Mr. Pinson settled the claim for $4,500 without claimant's authorization, endorsed claimant's name on the January 2007 check and used the entire amount for his own purposes.  Claimant's successor counsel persuaded the insurer to pay claimant $2,250 for a genuine release of claims.  Claimant’s successor counsel evaluated the $4,500 settlement as "low but not out of the ballpark." The Board found a defalcation and awarded claimant $750.00.

CSB-2008-053 Ronald Gary Pinson, Milton, MA (Disbarred)
In April 2006, as claimant was entering his car, a passing motorist struck him causing injuries to his neck, back, both shoulders and right arm.  When Mr. Pinson told claimant of the insurer’s settlement offer of a $4,800, claimant refused the offer believing his injuries were worth substantially more.  Despite that refusal, Mr. Pinson settled the claim for $4,800 in January 2007 and endorsed claimant's name (as Power of Attorney) on two January 2007 checks: $3,489 (net of medical lien) and $84.  He used the entire amount for his own purposes. Claimant's refusal to settle for the offered amount was evidence of Mr. Pinson’s selling the claim short and forfeiting "credit" for his fee.  The Board found a defalcation and awarded claimant $3,573.00.
 

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