In re Gaines, Appellate Case No. 2019-001667

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
Citation428 S.C. 538,836 S.E.2d 791
Decision Date27 November 2019
Docket NumberAppellate Case No. 2019-001667,Opinion No. 27931
Parties In the MATTER OF Douglas Andrew GAINES, Respondent.

428 S.C. 538
836 S.E.2d 791

In the MATTER OF Douglas Andrew GAINES, Respondent.

Appellate Case No. 2019-001667
Opinion No. 27931

Supreme Court of South Carolina.

Submitted November 8, 2019
Filed November 27, 2019

John S. Nichols, Disciplinary Counsel, and Ericka M. Williams, Senior Assistant Disciplinary Counsel, both of Columbia, for the Office of Disciplinary Counsel.

Douglas Andrew Gaines, of Anderson, pro se.


428 S.C. 538

In this attorney disciplinary matter, Respondent and the Office of Disciplinary Counsel (ODC) have entered into an

428 S.C. 539

Agreement for Discipline by Consent (the Agreement) pursuant to Rule 21, RLDE, Rule 413, SCACR. In the Agreement, Respondent admits misconduct and consents to the imposition of a definite suspension not to exceed two years. We accept the Agreement and suspend Respondent from the practice of law in this state for two years, retroactive to July 24, 2018, the date of his interim suspension. In re Gaines , 424 S.C. 16, 817 S.E.2d 632 (2018). The facts, as set forth in the Agreement, are as follows.


Matter I

Respondent was retained by Kenneth and Sharon Smith to represent their company, Dakota Finance, LLC (Dakota Finance), in a civil action. The Smiths paid Respondent a $3,000 retainer. On May 26, 2017, Respondent filed a summons and complaint on behalf of Dakota Finance. The defendant filed an answer and counterclaim on July 18, 2017.

On August 18, 2017, Respondent contacted counsel for the defendant and requested a ten-day extension to answer or otherwise plead to the counterclaim. Defense counsel granted the extension, making the reply to the counterclaim due on August 28, 2017. On September 20, 2017, Respondent contacted defense counsel and left a message indicating the reply to the counterclaim would be filed on September 21, 2017. On October 3, 2017, defense counsel filed an affidavit of default based on Respondent's failure to file a reply to the counterclaim. On October 6, 2017, Respondent filed a reply to the counterclaim.

On November 10, 2017, Sharon Smith, on behalf of Dakota Finance, sent Respondent a letter terminating Respondent's representation and requesting a detailed invoice for services rendered, the client file, and a refund of the retainer fee paid. Respondent failed to timely provide these items.

On April 2, 2018, the case came before the circuit court on the non-jury motion roster. Respondent was given electronic notice of the hearing as he was still the attorney of record for Dakota Finance. Respondent failed to notify defense counsel or the circuit court that he was in the process of being relieved as counsel in the case. Respondent did not appear at the

428 S.C. 540

hearing and also failed

836 S.E.2d 792

to notify the Smiths or their new attorney of the hearing. On April 3, 2018, the circuit court granted an order of default as to the defendant's counterclaims due to the failure of Respondent and the Smiths to appear at the April 2, 2018 hearing.

On June 29, 2018, a notice to appear before Disciplinary Counsel on July 19, 2018, and a subpoena commanding Respondent bring two client files to his appearance were personally served on Respondent by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division. However, Respondent failed to appear to respond to questions under oath or provide the subpoenaed files. On July 29, 2018, ODC mailed Respondent a supplemental notice of investigation to Respondent's address on file with the Attorney Information System (AIS). The supplemental notice of investigation was returned unclaimed.

Matter II ...

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