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Commonwealth of Massachusetts

NO. BD-2008-107

IN RE: EILEEN G. COONEY

S.J.C. Order of Term Suspension entered by Justice Botsford on November 19, 2008.1

SUMMARY2

The respondent was retained by the client in March 1997 to file a medical malpractice action against a physician for permanent and disfiguring injuries received as a result of surgery performed on the client. The respondent filed a complaint. A medical malpractice tribunal was scheduled for November 25, 1998. The respondent failed to present an Offer of Proof and a finding was issued for the physician, which was adopted and entered by the court.

The respondent failed to inform the client that the tribunal found for the physician and failed to take any steps to preserve the clientís lawsuit. The physicianís counsel filed a Motion to Dismiss that the respondent did not oppose and that was granted by the court. A Judgment of Dismissal of the clientís case was entered on January 22, 1999.

The respondent not only failed to inform the client that her case had been dismissed, but repeatedly and intentionally misrepresented the status of the case to the client from 1999 through 2007. In April 2007, the respondent was administratively suspended from the Bar of the Commonwealth for failure to pay her registration fees. After this suspension, the respondent continued to make misrepresentations to the client, including the existence of fictitious settlement discussions with the physicianís counsel and insurer. Following the administrative suspension, the respondent also failed to comply with the suspension order.

Bar Counsel filed and served a petition for discipline on June 30, 2008. In aggravation, the respondent failed to file an answer to the petition, was defaulted and failed to take any action for relief from the default. She also failed to cooperate with Bar Counselís investigation of this matter. Additionally, the respondent was publicly censured in 2005 in a Rhode Island disciplinary action involving neglect, failure to keep clients informed, misrepresentation and failure to respond or cooperate in disciplinary proceedings. She also received a private censure in 1995 and a private letter of admonition in 2002 in Rhode Island in matters involving neglect of clientsí cases.

The respondentís failure to present an Offer of Proof at the medical malpractice tribunal and subsequent failure to oppose the Motion to Dismiss violated Mass. R. Prof. C. 1.1, 1.2(a) and Mass. R. Prof. C. 1.3.

The respondentís failure to keep the client reasonably informed of the status of the case violated Mass. R. Prof. C. 1.4. Her repeated, intentional and fraudulent misrepresentations to the client violated Mass. R. Prof. C. 8.4(c) and (h).

The respondentís continued practice of law after being administratively suspended violated Mass. R. Prof. C. 3.4(c) and 5.5(a). Her conduct in failing to comply with the order of administrative suspension violated Mass. R. Prof. C. 3.4(c), 8.4(d) and 8.4(h).

The respondentís failure to cooperate with Bar Counsel in its investigation of this matter violated Mass. R. Prof. C. 8.1(b), 8.4(d), 8.4(g) and 8.4(h).

On October 20, 2008, the Board of Bar Overseers unanimously voted to recommend that the respondent be indefinitely suspended for her misconduct. On November 19, 2008, the Supreme Judicial Court for Suffolk County (Botsford, J.) entered an order indefinitely suspending the respondent from the practice of law, effective immediately.


FOOTNOTES:

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 filed with the Supreme Judicial Court.



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