O'Neil v. Kentucky Bar Association, 012121 KYSC, 2020-SC-0425-KB

Docket Nº2020-SC-0425-KB
Party NameSHAMEKA LYNN O'NEIL MOVANT v. KENTUCKY BAR ASSOCIATION RESPONDENT
Case DateJanuary 21, 2021
CourtSupreme Court of Kentucky

SHAMEKA LYNN O'NEIL MOVANT

v.

KENTUCKY BAR ASSOCIATION RESPONDENT

No. 2020-SC-0425-KB

Supreme Court of Kentucky

January 21, 2021

IN SUPREME COURT

OPINION AND ORDER

Pursuant to Supreme Court Rule (SCR) 3.480(2), Movant, Shameka Lynn O'Neil, moves this Court to enter a negotiated sanction resolving the pending disciplinary proceeding against her (KBA File No. 19-DIS-0425) by imposing a public reprimand with conditions. The Kentucky Bar Association has no objection. Finding this sanction adequate, we grant O'Neil's motion.

O'Neil was admitted to the practice of law in the Commonwealth of Kentucky on October 19, 2017. Her KBA number is 95090, and her current bar roster address is 1229 Shelby Street, Louisville, Kentucky 40203.

I. BACKGROUND

Shalonda Meaux hired O'Neil to represent her in a racial discrimination claim against the Kentucky Department of Revenue, where Meaux worked as a revenue program officer. The engagement agreement the parties signed provides: "Client hereby engages Attorney to represent her state court lawsuit-racial discrimination hiring preference." The agreement references a nonrefundable retainer of $1, 850. It later refers to the $1, 850 as a "flat fee." The agreement also provides that O'Neil's rate is $150/hour and that Meaux may be required to "replenish" her engagement fee by making additional payments.

Meaux paid O'Neil $1, 900, which included the filing fee for her case. O'Neil filed Meaux's verified complaint in Jefferson Circuit Court against the Kentucky Department of Revenue and the manager of her department. However, O'Neil failed to serve either the attorney general or assistant attorney general, as required by CR 4.04. Building on these errors, O'Neil also filed the suit in the wrong forum, as the claim should have been filed with the Kentucky Claims Commission. Defendants' counsel filed a motion to dismiss the case on the grounds of insufficiency of service of process, lack of subject matter jurisdiction, failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted, and improper venue. When O'Neil failed to appear at the hearing on the motions, the Jefferson Circuit Court continued the matter and gave O'Neil additional time to respond. The court also noted that O'Neil had yet to cure the service of process errors.

O'Neil again failed to respond to the various motions or appear at the hearing and the matter was submitted for final adjudication, with the court dismissing the case with prejudice. More than a week later, O'Neil filed a motion stating she had been out of town when the motions were filed and served by mail. In the motion, she asked the trial court to alter, amend, or vacate its order dismissing the case with prejudice and alleged she had cured the service defects. The trial court altered its order and dismissed the case without prejudice due to a lack of subject matter jurisdiction. O'Neil failed to communicate the case's dismissal to Meaux. In fact, Meaux did not learn her case had been dismissed until she consulted another attorney who, in turn, called O'Neil to check on the status of Meaux's case. O'Neil then informed Meaux she could no longer represent her, as the action would have to be filed in Frankfort. O'Neil took no further action in Meaux's case.

O'Neil sent Meaux an invoice indicating she spent 16...

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