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Case Abstracts for matters heard in September of 2007

CSB-2007-036 Harley H. Anderson, Lexington, MA  (Disbarred)
Claimants were three adult siblings, the biological children of their deceased mother.  In June 2004, claimants' step-sister appeared before the Board and was awarded $152,250.00. On October 3, 1996, claimants' mother created a trust and named Mr. Anderson sole trustee. She also conveyed the family home to him as trustee. Slightly more than two months later claimants' mother died.  The trust required Mr. Anderson to account to the beneficiaries annually following the mother's death.  Despite repeated requests, Mr. Anderson failed to account.  The trust also required Mr. Anderson to retain the family home for the use of the mother's husband while he remained alive.  Despite that directive, Mr. Anderson sold the house in April, 1997, more than two years before the husband's death. Following the husband's death, Mr. Anderson had one year to terminate the trust and to distribute its principal to the claimants and to their step-sister. Mr. Anderson never made the required distribution to the step–sister or to claimants despite their repeated requests. Following considerable pressure from the step-sister, Mr. Anderson admitted diverting the proceeds of the sale of the family home (a total of $203,000.00) to his own real estate investment. The Board's 2004 award to the step-sister of $152,250 was her 75% share of $203,000 as required by the trust. The Board awarded claimants an aggregate of $50,750, their 25% share as required by the trust to be shared equally among them.

CSB-2007-017 Anthony R. Bott, Orleans, MA  (Disbarred)
While working as a traveling nurse on Cape Cod during the summer of 2000, claimant seriously injured her left knee when she tripped and fell over a concrete curb at the doorway to a Hyannis convenience store.  After dismissing her first lawyer, claimant interviewed Mr. Bott who told her that "without looking at any documentation he would not foresee any problem in asking $200,000 - $300,000 and recovering $20,000-$80,000." In March 2003 claimant signed a contingent fee agreement and paid Mr. Bott a $300 advance on expenses.  On March 26, 2003, Mr. Bott sent a 16-page demand letter to the store's insurer that concluded with a demand for more than $600,000. During May and June claimant called Mr. Bott's office seeking updates only to be told that Mr. Bott hadn't heard anything.  When claimant telephoned during July, Mr. Bott told her that he had settled the case for $9,750.  Claimant contacted the insurer directly and learned that Mr. Bott had actually settled the claim in April 2003, roughly one month to the day after he had sent the $600,000 demand letter.  He forged claimant's name on the release and forged her endorsement on the settlement check. Although Mr. Bott assured claimant that she would net approximately $5,000-$6,000, she received only $3,500 in two installments: a $2,000 "advance" on December 1, 2003 and $1,500 in January 2004. Although Mr. Bott's Settlement Statement showed that he had paid claimant's first lawyer the fee due him, claimant later learned that he had not.  The first lawyer sent claimant a statement in July 2006 showing that she owed him $3,888.14.  Claimant paid her first lawyer an additional $2,639.04 and he forgave $1,249.10. When claimant's payments to her first lawyer ($3,139.04) are subtracted from the $3,500 she received from Mr. Bott, her net settlement recovery was $360.96.  Mr. Bott never replied to claimant's application for reimbursement. The Board found a defalcation and awarded claimant $6,250 [$9,750 - $3,500].

CSB-2007-060 Raymond C. Lantz, North Dartmouth, MA (Disbarred)
In early 2002, claimant, an unmarried, disabled man in his 60's, was about to receive an inheritance from his mother's estate. At that time, he was receiving social security disability benefits, a rental subsidy from a local housing authority, food stamps and MassHealth benefits.  He consulted Mr. Lantz because he was concerned, in Mr. Lantz's words, "about how best to protect the assets you will inherit from your mother without losing your governmental benefits." Mr. Lantz recommended that claimant keep $2,000 in a personal bank account and put the balance into a special needs trust of which claimant would be the beneficiary and whose trustee would be someone other than claimant.  Mr. Lantz recommended that the corpus of the trust be invested in a deferred annuity.  Claimant paid Mr. Lantz $2,000 for estate planning service and tax planning and advice.  Claimant alleges that Mr. Lantz explained that a revocable trust would protect his SSI benefits, but SSI stopped them upon learning of revocable trust. Claimant did not provide any notice of termination of SSI benefits.   Because the Board found that the claim, taken in the light most favorable to claimant, presented a case of possible malpractice but not one of defalcation, voted to make no award.

CSB-2007-062 Merrill D. Goldfarb, Brockton, MA (Suspended)
Claimant, represented by different counsel, obtained a $142,000 judgment and execution against a medical practitioner in May 2001.  In February 2002, claimant retained Mr. Goldfarb to collect the judgment and paid him a retainer of $5,000. At the time he accepted the retainer, Mr. Goldfarb was six months away from the order of suspension and had been under investigation by Bar Counsel for almost two years.   As reported in the judgment of disbarment ". . . in his affidavit of compliance dated October 18, 2002, filed with bar counsel, [Mr. Goldfarb] falsely certified that he had given notice of his suspension to clients with legal matters pending, when in fact he had not. . ."   Instead of giving such notice to claimant and returning the $5,000 retainer to him, Mr. Goldfarb gave claimant "progress reports" in 2003, 2004 and 2005 and invited him to a bogus July 20, 2006 court appearance in Dedham.  Mr. Goldfarb never replied to claimant's application for reimbursement.   The Board found a defalcation of $5,000 and made an award to claimant in that amount.

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