FOR THE RESPONDENT FOR THE INDIANA SUPREME COURT DISCIPLINARY COMMISSION
Robert E. Stochel Donald R. Lundberg, Executive Secretary One Professional Center Fredrick L. Rice, Staff Attorney Suite 308 115 W. Washington Street, Ste. 1060 Crown Point, IN 46307 Indianapolis, IN 46204 ___________________________________________________________________
SUPREME COURT OF INDIANA
The Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission has charged that the respondent,
Jeffrey A. Golding, violated the Professional Rules of Conduct for Attorneys at Law by
neglecting the legal affairs of clients, failing to communicate with clients, failing to return
materials to clients following termination of representation, and failing to respond to requests
for information from the Disciplinary Commission. The respondent and the Disciplinary
Commission have tendered a Statement of Circumstances and Conditional Agreement for
Discipline in resolution of this matter. Our jurisdiction in this case is a result of the
respondent's admission to this state's bar on October 14, 1988.
Under Count I of the Verified Complaint for Disciplinary Action, the parties agree
that a client hired respondent to represent the interests of her daughter in a personal injury
action in April 1993. Following initial meetings with the client and some preliminary work
on the case, the respondent made no further efforts to pursue the claim. He failed to have any
further contact with the client despite the client's numerous attempts to contact him. Even
after receiving a subpoena from the Disciplinary Commission, the respondent failed to
produce and return the client's documents.
Under Count II, the parties agree that the respondent was hired by a client on June 30, 1993, to pursue a medical malpractice claim. After filing a "Proposed Complaint" with the Indiana Department of Insurance, the respondent failed to answer interrogatories and other requests for information in pursuit of the claim with the result that the complaint was dismissed with prejudice for failure to prosecute. Between August 1993 and the beginning of 1995, the client made numerous attempts to contact the respondent seeking information on the status of her claim, without success. In addition, the respondent failed to return the client's medical records and other documents.
The parties agree under Count III of the Verified Complaint that the respondent was hired by another client on October 18, 1993, to pursue medical malpractice claims against health care providers and a claim against the client's employer and employer's insurance carrier for decisions which left the client without insurance coverage for a surgical procedure. On January 26, 1994, the respondent prepared a complaint and filed it in the appropriate court and with the Indiana Department of Insurance. Opposing counsel served respondent with various discovery requests on February 16, 1994, and again on March 4,
1994. The respondent did not answer any of the discovery requests. The respondent also
failed to attend a pre-hearing conference scheduled for December 7, 1994, which resulted
in an order dismissing the case without prejudice. Pursuant to the provisions of the medical
malpractice statute, the respondent commenced a separate action in Lake Superior Court
against another provider. Thereafter, the remaining medical malpractice defendant petitioned
in yet another separate action for summary judgment against the respondent's client and
dismissal with prejudice for missing the applicable statute of limitations. The respondent did
not file responses in any of these actions. The court, after holding a consolidated hearing,
ruled against the respondent's client on the various motions in these proceedings. The
respondent did not communicate the outcome of these cases to the clients. By letter dated
July 24, 1996, the clients terminated the respondent's representation of them and requested
return of documents they had turned over to him at the beginning of the representation. He
failed to return any of the client's documents after his employment was terminated.
Under Count IV, the parties agree that the respondent accepted an employment-related case on July 29, 1996. Following some initial work on the case, the respondent failed to return numerous phone calls and letters written by the client asking for an update on his case. Finally, by letter dated February 1, 1997, the client terminated the respondent's representation and requested the return of case file materials. The respondent did not return the documents as requested.
Finally, under Count V, the parties agree that the respondent failed to respond to demands for information from the Disciplinary Commission concerning a December 10,
1996, grievance filed with the Commission. A second demand for information was sent to
the respondent on February 20, 1997, and also went unanswered.
We find that through his repeated failure to act on his clients' behalves and his failure to keep clients informed of the status of their claims, the respondent violated Ind.Professional Conduct Rule 1.3See footnote 1 and Ind.Professional Conduct Rule 1.4(a) and (b).See footnote 2 The respondent's failure to return client materials when requested to do so also violated Ind.Professional Conduct Rules 1.15(a) and 1.16(d).See footnote 3 By failing to expedite and advance the medical malpractice claims, the respondent violated Ind.Professional Conduct Rule 3.2.See footnote 4 Finally, by failing to respond to the Disciplinary Commission's demands for information, the respondent violated Ind.Professional Conduct Rule 8. l(b).See footnote 5
The parties have agreed that the appropriate sanction for the misconduct outlined in
Counts I through V is a nine-month suspension from the practice of law at the conclusion of
which the respondent will be allowed to petition for reinstatement. The parties agree that the
respondent's failure to cooperate fully with the investigation, his failure to make any effort
to assist his former clients in recovering their records, and the pattern of neglect indicated
by the numerous counts of misconduct aggravate the charges. Factors in mitigation include
the respondent's lack of prior discipline and disorganization stemming from two physical
moves of his practice during the time period encompassing Counts I, II, and III.
The numerous offenses set out in this case reflect a pattern of serious neglect and inattention to client interests, as well as a disregard for the duty and authority of the Disciplinary Commission. As a result of the respondent's lack of diligence, clients were deprived of legal remedies or suffered inordinate delays in pursuing their claims. These
unfortunate consequences aggravate the respondent's misconduct and call for a significant
disciplinary sanction. In light of the foregoing consideration, we find that the agreed
discipline is appropriate and that the agreement of the parties should be approved.
Accordingly, the respondent, Jeffrey A. Golding, is hereby suspended from the practice of
law for a period of nine months, beginning November 16, 1998. At the conclusion of this
suspension, the respondent will be eligible to petition for reinstatement pursuant to
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 Federal District Courts in this state, and the clerk of the United States Bankruptcy Court in this state with the last known address of respondent as reflected in the records of the clerk.
Costs of this proceeding are assessed against respondent.
in the matter, or knowingly fail to respond to a lawful demand for information from an
admissions or disciplinary authority.
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