Walton, Matter of, No. 1079S277

Docket NºNo. 1079S277
Citation427 N.E.2d 654
Case DateNovember 02, 1981
CourtSupreme Court of Indiana

Page 654

427 N.E.2d 654
In the Matter of Charles A. WALTON.
No. 1079S277.
Supreme Court of Indiana.
Nov. 2, 1981.

Michael Riley, Riley & Riley, Indianapolis, for respondent.

Thomas J. Opsut, Indianapolis, for Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission.

PER CURIAM.

This cause is brought by the Disciplinary Commission of the Indiana Supreme Court on a seven count Amended Verified Complaint. The Hearing Officer appointed pursuant to Admission and Discipline Rule 23 has heard this case and has submitted his findings of fact. The Respondent has petitioned for review, but has not filed a brief.

Upon examination of the matters submitted before us we now find that Charles A. Walton, Respondent herein was admitted to the Indiana Bar on May 11, 1976.

Relative to the charges under Count I of the Complaint, we find that in April, 1976, Respondent was retained by Joyce Wilkins (Wilkins) to pursue a personal injury claim against AID Ambulance Service. Wilkins and Respondent entered into an employment contract whereby Respondent was to receive one-third of any recovery obtained. Respondent then directed Wilkins to speak with Respondent's associate, Harold Bickham, to complete some paperwork and to arrange for an appointment with a physician.

By letter dated October 5, 1976, Respondent's office informed Wilkins that Hartford Insurance Company (Hartford), AID's insurer, had offered to settle her claim for One Hundred Fifty Dollars. Wilkins immediately communicated to Respondent's office that the offer was unacceptable and she rejected it. On December 6, 1976 Hartford made a second offer to settle Wilkins' claim for Four Hundred Fifty Dollars. The Respondent never communicated this offer to Wilkins. Sometime later, however, Wilkins received a check from the Respondent for Two Hundred Fifty Dollars. Wilkins returned this check to the Respondent, notifying him that she rejected this offer also.

Hartford heard nothing from the Respondent regarding the Four Hundred Fifty Dollar offer to settle and consequently stopped payment on its check on March 8, 1977. On April 21, 1977, a representative of Hartford contacted the Respondent and scheduled an appointment with him to discuss a settlement in the Wilkins matter. Respondent cancelled the appointment as well as numerous subsequent appointments made by Hartford.

Page 655

After Wilkins had not heard from the Respondent for sometime, Wilkins attempted to contact either the Respondent or Bickham. Wilkins was informed that Bickham was no longer with the office and the Respondent was not available to speak with her. The Respondent thereafter failed to keep several appointments Wilkins made to consult with him. The Respondent never filed a lawsuit on behalf of Wilkins, no settlement was ever obtained and the statute of limitations on Wilkins' claim ran out on January 19, 1978. Hartford closed its file on the Wilkins matter on April 11, 1978.

The conduct exhibited in the foregoing findings constitutes neglect of a legal matter, failure to seek the lawful objectives of a client, failure to carry out a contract of employment entered into with a client and prejudice and damage to the client in violation of Disciplinary Rules 6-101(A)(3) and 7-101(A)(1)(2) and (3). By these actions Respondent engaged in conduct which adversely reflects on his fitness to practice law in violation of Disciplinary Rule 1-102(A)(6) of the Code of Professional Responsibility for Attorneys at Law.

Under the charges of Count II we find that in November, 1972, Dorothy F. Strong was injured at her job. Soon, thereafter, Strong employed Respondent to pursue a claim for workmen's compensation on her behalf before the Industrial Board and agreed to a contingency fee of one-third of recovery.

In December, 1972, Strong was offered Four Hundred Dollars ($400.00) by her employer to settle the matter. The Respondent advised Strong not to accept this offer and further advised his client that he would file a claim with the Industrial Board. Sometime in 1973, after Strong had completed a Blue Cross-Blue Shield insurance subrogation document, the Respondent advised Strong that he had filed a claim with the Industrial Board and was attempting to obtain a hearing date from the Industrial Board concerning her claim for compensation. In 1975, Strong contacted the Respondent to inquire if the statute of limitations was in danger of running in her case and at that time the Respondent again stated that her claim had been filed with the Industrial Board. In September, 1977, Strong had a chance meeting with the Respondent outside of her mother's home at which time the Respondent advised her that "all Courts are closed now. But as soon as the Courts convene, I'm going to get this thing settled." In fact, the Respondent never filed the claim on behalf of Strong and the statute of limitations has expired on such claim.

The foregoing findings establish that Respondent neglected a legal matter entrusted to him, failed to carry out a contract of employment, failed to seek the lawful objectives of his client and prejudiced and damaged his...

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1 practice notes
  • Myers v. Mississippi State Bar, No. 50
    • United States
    • Mississippi Supreme Court
    • July 10, 1985
    ...should be less than the suspension for four months and one year respectively in those cases. The Bar contends that In Matter of Walton, 427 N.E.2d 654 (Ind.1981), modified 431 N.E.2d 474 (Ind.1982), supports the upholding of at least a 2-year suspension, because the attorney, just as Myers,......
1 cases
  • Myers v. Mississippi State Bar, No. 50
    • United States
    • Mississippi Supreme Court
    • July 10, 1985
    ...should be less than the suspension for four months and one year respectively in those cases. The Bar contends that In Matter of Walton, 427 N.E.2d 654 (Ind.1981), modified 431 N.E.2d 474 (Ind.1982), supports the upholding of at least a 2-year suspension, because the attorney, just as Myers,......

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