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Commonwealth of Massachusetts

NO. BD-2005-037

IN RE: WILLIAM FRANCIS SCANNELL, JR.

S.J.C. Order of Term Suspension entered by Justice Greaney on May 25, 2005, with an effective date of June 24, 2005.1

SUMMARY2

The respondent was suspended for a year and a day for his neglect of three client matters.

With respect to the first matter, a client retained the respondent in early 1999 to assist her in a workersí compensation claim. As of February 25, 2000, the respondent was also representing her in regard to a personal injury claim arising out of the same matter. On March 6, 2000, the respondent filed suit on the personal injury claim in Superior Court but, between March 7, 2000, and August 25, 2000, took no additional action in the matter and did not serve the complaint on the defendant. In August 25, 2000, the case was dismissed without prejudice for failure to complete service of process on the defendant. The respondent did not advise his client that the case had been dismissed.

On September 11, 2000, the respondent filed a motion for leave to remove the judgment of dismissal. The motion was denied on September 21, 2000, because the respondent did not provide reasons why service was not made within ninety days and why a motion to extend time for service was not timely made. The respondent did not advise his client that he was filing the motion or that the motion was denied. After September 21, 2000, the respondent took no additional action in the matter.

Despite numerous attempts between 2000 and 2004 to contact the respondent by telephone, fax, e-mail, and letter, the client was unable to obtain a status update on the personal injury matter from the respondent. The client did not learn that the matter had been dismissed until informed by bar counsel in September 2004.

The respondentís failure to provide competent representation, his failure to seek the clientís lawful objectives through reasonably available means permitted by law, his failure to act with reasonable diligence and his failure to adequately communicate with his client was in violation of Mass. R. Prof. C. 1.1, 1.2(a), 1.3 and 1.4.

With respect to the second matter, a client retained the respondent on May 16, 2003, to represent her in a domestic matter. The respondent repeatedly failed to comply with discovery deadlines and orders and failed to keep his client informed of the status of the discovery orders, motions to compel or motions for contempt. As a result of the respondentís neglect, sanctions were ordered by the court requiring the client to pay attorneyís fees in the amount of $525.00 (paid by the respondent) and the respondent to pay $2,000.00.

In addition, between May 2003 and August 2004, other than filing a demand for a financial statement, the respondent failed to conduct discovery on behalf of his client and failed to file a motion to increase child support, all as requested.

The respondentís failure to provide competent representation, his failure to seek the clientís lawful objectives through reasonably available means permitted by law, his failure to act with reasonable diligence and his failure to adequately communicate with his client was in violation of Mass. R. Prof. C. 1.1, 1.2(a), 1.3 and 1.4.

In the third matter, the respondent represented a client who had received a workersí compensation lump sum settlement. In June 2001, the client was terminated from employment because he was presumed physically incapable of returning to work. On December 14, 2001, the respondent filed an MCAD complaint. On November 21, 2003, MCAD issued a probable cause finding. A conciliation conference was set for January 6, 2004.

On December 23, 2003, counsel for the employer filed a motion to dismiss. The respondent belatedly filed an opposition, but by order dated June 30, 2004, the matter was dismissed. The respondent did not advise his client that the matter had been dismissed, and the client learned that the matter was dismissed when he contacted MCAD directly in early July of 2004. The client then left several messages for the respondent but did not receive a return call until three weeks later.

The respondent also failed to file an appeal of the dismissal of the complaint within ten days of receipt of the decision as required.

The respondent met with his client on August 2, 2004, and the respondent indicated that he would file suit. Between August 2, 2004, and January 26, 2005, the respondent took no action on the matter. On January 26, 2005, the respondent filed suit in the Superior Court, but the court dismissed the suit on February 14, 2005, after the check for the filing fee was returned due to insufficient funds.

The respondentís failure to provide competent representation, his failure to seek the clientís lawful objectives through reasonably available means permitted by law, his failure to act with reasonable diligence and his failure to adequately communicate with his client was in violation of Mass. R. Prof. C. 1.1, 1.2(a), 1.3 and 1.4.

In aggravation, the respondent had a prior private reprimand for neglect of two cases, PR 91-49, 7 Mass. Att'y Disc. R. 408 (1991), and a public reprimand for neglect with harm to the client, record-keeping violations and failure to cooperate with bar counsel. Matter of Scannell, 19 Mass. Att'y Disc. R. 386 (2003).

In mitigation, at the time of the events in question, the respondent was suffering from severe depression.

The parties stipulated that the appropriate sanction for the respondentís misconduct was a suspension of a year and a day. On May 9, 2005, the Board of Bar Overseers voted to adopt the partiesí stipulation and proposed sanction. On May 25, 2005, the Supreme Judicial Court for Suffolk County entered an order suspending the respondent from the practice of law for a period of a year and a day.

1 The complete Order of the Court is available by contacting the Clerk of the Supreme Judicial Court for Suffolk County.

2 Compiled by the Board of Bar Overseers based on the record before the Court.



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