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Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Public Reprimand No. 2005-16



TIMOTHY O. RIBLEY

Order (public reprimand) entered by the Board August 31, 2005.

SUMMARY1


In October of 2002, a client retained the respondent to represent him in two personal injury claims. In the first claim, the client sought damages for injuries sustained in August of 2002, when he fell at a bookstore. In the second claim, the client sought damages for injuries sustained in July of 2002 at a tribal casino. The respondent agreed to represent the client on a contingent fee basis and they executed a written contingent fee agreement for each case on October 2, 2002.

The claim against the casino was governed by the laws of the tribal nation, which provided a one-year statute of limitations that expired in July of 2003. The respondent did not file suit with the tribal court prior to the expiration of the statute of limitations and did not inform the client that the statute of limitations had expired. In the case against the bookstore, the respondent sent a letter of representation to the insurer on October 4, 2002. Thereafter, the respondent took no action to prosecute or settle the clientís claim.

In August of 2003, the respondent closed his law practice and relocated to Virginia. The respondent did not inform the client that he had closed his practice and the respondent did not return the clientís two files to him. In October of 2003, the client went to the respondentís law office and was told by another tenant in the building that the respondent had moved. The tenant did not have a forwarding address. On November 3, 2003, the client filed a complaint with the Office of Bar Counsel.

After being contacted by bar counsel in November 2003, the respondent returned the clientís two files. At that time, the respondent informed bar counsel that the statute of limitations had expired on the clientís claim against the tribal casino.

The respondent's failure to act with reasonable diligence in prosecuting the clientsí two claims constituted a violation of Mass. R. Prof. C. 1.3. The respondent's failure to inform the client that the statute of limitations had expired on the tribal casino claim until after bar counsel contacted him constituted a violation of Mass. R. Prof. C. 1.4. The respondentís failure to notify the client of his relocation to Virginia and closing of his law practice constituted inadequate communication with his client in violation of Mass. R. Prof. C. 1.4 and conduct adversely reflecting on the respondentís fitness to practice law in violation of Mass. R. Prof. C. 8.4 (h). The respondent's failure to deliver the client's two files promptly upon request constituted a violation of Mass. R. Prof. C. 1.16 (a)(1), (d), and (e).

In aggravation, the respondent received an admonition in 1996 for inadequate preparation of a client matter.

This matter came before the Board on a stipulation of facts and disciplinary violations and a joint recommendation for a public reprimand. On July 18, 2005, the Board of Bar Overseers adopted the partiesí recommendation and approved a public reprimand.

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



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