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Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Public Reprimand No. 2008-22



LAWRENCE J. FEENEY

Order (public reprimand) entered by the Board September 25, 2008.

SUMMARY1


On June 2, 1997, a passenger in a car was injured when the car in which she was riding was hit by a trash truck. On August 15, 1997, the passenger met with and retained the respondent to represent her in her claim against the company that owned the trash truck.

At the meeting, the client gave the respondent the accident report, her medical bills, photographs of the car, and other documents and correspondence related to the accident. Following this meeting, the respondent took no action of substance in furtherance of the clientís claim until June 2000.

On June 9, 2000, the respondent filed suit in Superior Court, alleging negligence and seeking damages of $50,000 plus costs and interest. The respondent misread the date on the handwritten police report and therefore filed suit seven days after the statute of limitations had expired on the claim. He also did not make service on the defendant. On August 10, 2001, a judgment of dismissal entered in the case due to ďservice of process not having been made on the defendant.Ē The respondent never advised the client that her case had been dismissed.

The respondentís failure to file suit or otherwise pursue the clientís negligence claim before the statute of limitations expired or to make service after filing the civil complaint was in violation of Mass. R. Prof. C. 1.1, 1.2(a), and 1.3.

The respondentís failure to adequately communicate with the client throughout the representation and his failure to notify the client of the courtís judgment dismissing her suit were in violation of Mass. R. Prof. C. 1.4(a) and (b).

In mitigation, the respondent made full restitution to the client from personal funds. After filing a complaint with bar counsel in July 2006, the client retained counsel to pursue a legal malpractice claim against the respondent for his neglect of her personal injury claim. The matter went to mediation, and the parties ultimately settled the claim for $75,000. In April 2008, the respondent made his final payment to the client.

The respondent was admitted to the bar of the Commonwealth in 1974 and has no prior discipline. This matter came before the Board of Bar Overseers on the partiesí stipulation of facts and rule violations and an agreed recommendation for discipline by public reprimand conditioned upon the respondent obtaining malpractice insurance if he intends to continue or engage in any private practice work. He is currently engaged in the public sector. On September 8, 2008, the Board voted to accept the stipulation and impose the recommended discipline.


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



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