FOR THE RESPONDENT FOR THE INDIANA SUPREME COURT
Ronald Lynn Davis, pro se Donald R. Lundberg, Executive Secretary
Charles M. Kidd, Staff Attorney
115 West Washington Street, Suite 1060
Indianapolis, IN 46204
IN THE MATTER OF )
) Case No. 10S00-9802-DI-106
RONALD LYNN DAVIS )
officer pursuant to Admis.Disc.R. 23(11)(b). After an evidentiary hearing on October 16,
1998, the hearing officer determined the respondent engaged in the charged misconduct and
submitted to this Court findings of fact and conclusions of law. Where, as here, the hearing
officer's findings and recommendation are not challenged, we accept and adopt the findings
but reserve final judgment as to misconduct and sanction. Matter of Grimm, 674 N.E.2d 551
We now find that the respondent represented the client in a personal injury claim arising from a 1992 automobile accident. The respondent and the client entered into a contingent fee agreement under which the respondent would receive a fee of 33-1/3 percent of any recovery obtained as a result of the respondent's representation of the client. Thereafter, the respondent determined any reasonable settlement likely would be insufficient to pay the client's medical bills arising from the accident, the attorney fees, and damages for her suffering. Therefore, the respondent negotiated with the client's chiropractor to reduce the chiropractor's charges from $1,750 to $1000. Also, the respondent agreed to reduce his fee for legal services to $500.
With the assistance of a mediator, the personal injury claim was settled on March 30, 1995, for $3,200. The respondent reviewed the settlement with his client and prepared the following checks: $1,520 payable to the client; $1,000 payable to the chiropractor; $180 payable to the mediator; and $500 payable to the respondent for attorney fees.
In July 1995, the client learned that her chiropractor had not been paid. For the next
eight months, the client and the chiropractor's office attempted to contact the respondent on
numerous occasions to inquire about payment to the chiropractor. The respondent spoke to
the client only once during that period.
On April 19, 1996, the respondent sent the chiropractor a $1,000 check payable from the respondent's escrow account. Between March 1995, when the settlement proceeds were obtained, and April 19, 1996, when the chiropractor was paid from those proceeds , the respondent did not hold the $1,000 in trust for the client at all times. In fact, the respondent's escrow account was repeatedly overdrawn during that period. The respondent admitted he withdrew from the escrow account the funds intended for the chiropractor's fee and used those funds for his personal benefit.
Based on the foreging facts, we find that: 1) the respondent violated Ind. Professional Conduct Rule 1.15(b) by failing to promptly deliver funds which he was holding for his client, and 2) the respondent violated Prof.Cond.R. 8.4(c) by engaging in conduct involving fraud and dishonesty when he used his client's funds for his own benefit.See footnote 2
but one occasion failed to respond. He did not tender a check to the chiropractor until 13
months after receiving the settlement proceeds and, instead, during that time used the money
for his own benefit. Such misconduct warrants a period of suspension from the practice of
law. See, e.g., Matter of Brooks, supra (nine-month suspension for failing to keep client
funds in trust and failing to keep clients reasonably informed where attorney had been
disciplined twice previously); Matter of Ragland, 697 N.E.2d 44 (Ind. 1998) (six-month
suspension for trust account mismanagement and failure to adequately communicate with
Accordingly, we hereby suspend the respondent for six months, beginning October 4, 1999, at the conclusion of which the respondent shall be automatically readmitted to the practice of law in this state.
The Clerk of this Court is directed to provide notice of this order in accordance with Admis.Disc.R. 23(3)(d) and to provide the Clerk of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, the Clerk of each of the United States District Courts in this state, and the Clerk of each of the United States Bankruptcy Courts in this state with the last known address of the respondent as reflected in the records of the Clerk.
Costs of this proceeding are assessed against the respondent.
It is professional misconduct for a lawyer to: . . .
(c) engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or
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