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Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Public Reprimand No. 2004-19


Order (public reprimand) entered by the Board October 27, 2004.


In November 1995, a client retained the respondent to represent her in a claim for serious personal injuries arising out of an automobile accident on October 28, 1995. The claim was against the owner of the other car and the driver at the time of the accident.

On October 27, 1998, one day before the expiration of the statute of limitations, the respondent filed suit on behalf of his client. On January 22, 1999, the respondent served upon the defendants the complaint and summons.

On February 15, 1999, counsel for the defendants served the respondent with a request for production of documents and interrogatories for the plaintiff. On May 19, 1999, counsel for the defendants served upon the respondent a motion to compel production of documents. The respondent failed to comply with the discovery requests.

On May 19, 1999, counsel for the defendants filed the defendantsí applications for entry of judgment pursuant to M.R.C.P. 33(a). By May 29, 1999, the client had completed and signed the answers to interrogatories. The respondent never provided opposing counsel with the answers to interrogatories and never produced any requested documents.

On July 2, 1999, counsel for the defendants filed with the court reapplications for final judgment of dismissal against the respondentís client for failure to file answers to the defendantsí interrogatories. In July 1999, judgment for the defendants, with costs, entered against the respondentís client.

Between June 1999 and March 2002, the client repeatedly requested information on the status of her case. The respondent was unaware that her case had been dismissed, and he never checked the docket to determine the status of her case. As a result, the respondent incorrectly advised the client that her case was pending. In March 2002, the clientís husband contacted the court clerkís office and learned that the clientís case had been dismissed.

In May 2002, the respondentís former client filed a civil complaint against him for legal malpractice and violation of G.L. c. 93A. The respondent did not file an answer, and a default judgment entered against him.

The respondent also failed to cooperate with bar counselís investigation. On February 25, 2003, bar counsel served the respondent with a subpoena issued by the Board to appear and testify at the office of the bar counsel on March 13, 2003. The respondent appeared and provided his file to bar counsel.

The respondentís conduct in neglecting his clientís case, resulting in dismissal of her cause of action, violated Mass. R. Prof. C. 1.1 and 1.3. The respondentís failure to keep his client reasonably informed on the status of her case violated Mass. R. Prof. C. 1.4(a) and (b). The respondentís failure to cooperate with bar counselís investigation violated Supreme Judicial Court Rule 4:01, ß 3, and Mass. R. Prof. C. 8.4(g) and (h).

In mitigation, during the course of the representation, the respondent suffered from alcoholism and depression. The respondentís depression was exacerbated by the break-up of his marriage and a serious leg injury. These problems played a crucial role in his neglect of his clientís case.

The matter came before the Board on a stipulation of facts and a joint recommendation for discipline by public reprimand conditioned upon compliance with a monitored rehabilitation agreement. The Board of Bar Overseers voted to adopt the partiesí recommendation and imposed a public reprimand with two years probation.

1 Compiled by the Board of Bar Overseers based on the record of proceedings before the Board.

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