STATEWIDE GRIEVANCE COMMITTEE

Peter S. Smith, Complainant vs. Haiman Long Clein, Respondent

Grievance Complaint #95-0953

PROPOSED DECISION

Pursuant to Practice Book '27J, the undersigned, duly-appointed reviewing committee of the Statewide Grievance Committee, conducted a hearing at the Superior Court, 95 Washington Street, Hartford, Connecticut on February 6, 1997. The hearing addressed the record of the complaint filed on May 24, 1996 and the probable cause determination rendered by the New London Judicial District Grievance Panel on September 8, 1996, finding that there existed probable cause that the Respondent violated Rules 8.4(a), (b) and (c) of the Rules of Professional Conduct.

Notice of the hearing was mailed to the Complainant and to the Respondent on January 13, 1997. The Complainant, represented by counsel, appeared and gave testimony. The Respondent did not appear. An exhibit was received into evidence.

This reviewing committee finds the following facts by clear and convincing evidence:

The Respondent represented the Complainant in connection with a personal injury matter arising out of an automobile accident in December of 1994. The Complainant's case settled for $32,500.00 in October 1995. The Complainant received $10,000.00 net proceeds of the settlement. The Respondent was expected to pay Complainant's then outstanding medical bills of $11,223.11 from the remaining balance of the settlement proceeds and retain the remainder for his attorney's fee. The Respondent did not pay the Complainant's medical bills.

The reviewing committee also considered the following evidence:

The Complainant indicated that he had a one-third contingency fee agreement with the Respondent relative to the representation. The Complainant further indicated that the medical bills have not been paid and he continues to receive bills.

This reviewing committee finds the following violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct by clear and convincing evidence:

This reviewing committee concludes that the Respondent's conduct in representing the Complainant in a personal injury matter involves a breach of the Rules of Professional Conduct. The Respondent retained a portion of the Complainant's settlement proceeds to pay the Complainant's then outstanding medical bills of $11,223.11 but did not pay the medical bills in violation of Rule 8.4 of the Rules of Professional Conduct. The case settled in October 1995 and as of February 1997, the Complainant's medical bills have not been paid. Since we conclude that the Respondent violated the Rules of Professional Conduct and in consideration of the seriousness of the misconduct, we recommend that the Statewide Grievance Committee file a presentment against the Respondent with the Superior Court for the imposition of whatever discipline the court deems appropriate.

Attorney David A. Curry

Attorney Robert J. Kor

Ms. Mary Ellen Smith