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Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Public Reprimand No. 2006-4


Order (public reprimand) entered by the Board April 6, 2006.


In or around November 1998, the respondent agreed to represent a client in a personal injury claim resulting from an incident that occurred on February 18, 1997, when the client was being held at Middlesex County Jail. The respondent filed suit on behalf of the client in Suffolk Superior Court on September 7, 1999, naming the sheriff of Middlesex County and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts as defendants. The claim against the sheriff was dismissed in December 1999 as result of improper service of process. By agreement with the Attorney General’s office, the respondent filed a motion dismissing the claim against the Commonwealth in February 2000. The respondent did not advise the client of the dismissal of the claims. The client learned of the dismissals in March 2000 by contacting the court and thereafter filed a complaint with bar counsel. The respondent received an admonition for his misconduct in this matter on December 3, 2001, AD 01-82, 17 Mass. Att'y Disc. R. 820 (2001).

The dismissal of the client’s claim against the sheriff was vacated by the court on or about November 1, 2000, as having been entered in error. The respondent met with the client on or about August 10, 2001, and they agreed that the respondent would remain as counsel for the client and that he would pursue the client’s claim against the sheriff. However, the respondent again failed to pursue the matter and failed to adequately communicate with the client.

On or about October 18, 2002, the defendant filed a request that the client’s claim of improper medical treatment by employees at the jail and the jail infirmary be presented to a medical malpractice tribunal pursuant to G.L. c. 231, § 60 B. The respondent did not advise the client of the defendant’s request for a medical malpractice tribunal. He failed to take adequate action to pursue the client’s claim and failed to reply to letters from the client requesting information regarding the status of the matter. The client contacted the Office of Bar Counsel as to the respondent’s failure to communicate with him. After being telephoned by bar counsel, the respondent sent a letter to the client dated May 28, 2003, informing him of the sheriff’s request for a medical malpractice tribunal.

The medical malpractice tribunal heard the matter on or about December 12, 2003, and entered a finding in favor of the sheriff. The tribunal ordered the client to post a bond in the amount of $6,000 within thirty days if he wished to pursue his claim in court. The respondent wrote to the client on or about December 19, 2003, to inform him of the tribunal’s decision. The client posted the required $6,000 bond at the court on or about April 7, 2004.

Between April 2004 and December 2004, the respondent again failed to take action to prepare and prosecute the client’s claim. Counsel for the sheriff then filed a motion to dismiss the client’s claim based on the respondent’s failure, before filing suit, to make a presentment that complied sufficiently with all requirements of the Massachusetts Torts Claims Act, G.L. c. 258, § 4. The motion was allowed on or about December 10, 2004, and the claim against the sheriff was dismissed with prejudice. The respondent failed to notify the client of the dismissal.

On or about March 2, 2005, the client contacted the Office of Bar Counsel because he had not heard from the respondent. After being contacted by bar counsel, the respondent visited the client at prison on or about March 15, 2005, and advised the client that his claim had been dismissed. Without determining whether the bond could be recovered, the respondent sent a check in the amount of $6,000 from personal funds to the client on or about April 12, 2005, to reimburse the client for the cost of the bond.

The respondent’s failure in and after August 2001 to prepare and prosecute his client’s claim, failure to reply to the client’s letters, failure to keep the client apprised of the status of his claim and failure to inform the client of the dismissal of his claim in December 2004 constituted neglect, lack of diligence and inadequate communication with a client in violation of Mass. R. Prof. C. 1.2 (a), 1.3 and 1.4(a) and (b).

In mitigation, during the relevant time period the respondent was suffering from depression, stress and a heavy workload that included several lengthy and difficult trials as well as time-consuming family obligations. The depression and stress affected his ability to handle his solo practice. The respondent has sought and obtained treatment for his depression.

The respondent received a public reprimand for his conduct in this matter.

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

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