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Kentucky Bar Ass'n v. Reinhart

Supreme Court of Kentucky

September 26, 2013

KENTUCKY BAR ASSOCIATION, Movant
v.
Louis Edward REINHART, III, Respondent.

As Corrected Oct. 4, 2013.

OPINION AND ORDER

Louis Edward Reinhart, III, KBA No. 85729, was admitted to the practice of law

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in the Commonwealth of Kentucky on May 1, 1995, and his bar roster address is listed as 108 West Crystal Drive, P.O. Box 33, LaGrange, Kentucky, 40031. The Board of Governors (Board) unanimously found Reinhart guilty of violating SCR 3.130-1.3, SCR 3.130-1.4(b), SCR 3.130-1.5(b) & (c), SCR 3.130-8.4(c), SCR 3.130-1.15(a), SCR 3.130-1.15(b), and SCR 3.175( l )(a). For these violations the Board recommends Reinhart: 1) be permanently disbarred from the practice of law, and 2) pay costs of $726.35 associated with this disciplinary proceeding in accordance with SCR 3.450.

I. BACKGROUND

Christopher Duke retained Reinhart in 2005 to perform legal services. Thereafter, Reinhart was habitually dilatory and negligent in his representation of Duke. For example, Reinhart failed to comply with a discovery order, failed to respond in a timely manner to three different settlement offers, and did not inform Duke of the offers. After great delay, Reinhart finally accepted a settlement offer on behalf of Duke and deposited a $50,000 check into a non-trust account. Reinhart had discussed a 1/3 contingent fee with Duke, but Duke never signed a contract and Reinhart never provided an accounting of expenses to Duke. Reinhart simply left a $25,000 cashier's check (not drawn on an IOLTA trust account) at Duke's place of employment. Duke repeatedly attempted to contact Reinhart concerning the balance of his settlement proceeds, but Reinhart failed to respond.

A bar complaint was issued against Reinhart, but multiple attempts to provide service by certified mail at both his bar roster address and personal residence were returned. The Oldham County sheriff later attempted personal service to no avail. After these failed attempts, service was completed under SCR 3.175(2) by serving the Executive Director of the KBA. Reinhart failed to answer the charges, so the case went to the Board by default pursuant to SCR 3.210.

II. CHARGE

The Inquiry Commission (Commission) issued a charge against Reinhart alleging eight counts: 1) Count I charges Reinhart with violating SCR 3.130-1.3, [1]2) Count II charges Reinhart with violating SCR 3.130-1.4(b),[2]3) Count III charges Reinhart with violating SCR 3.130-1.5(b),[3]4) Count IV charges Reinhart with violating SCR 3.130-1.5(c),[4]5) Count V charges

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Reinhart with violating SCR 3.130-8.4(c),[5]6) Count VI charges Reinhart with violating SCR 3.130-1.15(a),[6]7) Count VII charges Reinhart with violating SCR 3.130-1.15(b),[7] and 8) Count VIII charges Reinhart with violating SCR 3.175(1)(a).[8]

III. BOARD'S RECOMMENDATION

The Board unanimously found Reinhart guilty of all charges and, by a vote of 12 to 4, recommended that he: 1) be permanently disbarred from the practice of law, and 2) pay $726.35, the costs of the disciplinary proceedings.

IV. ADOPTION OF BOARD'S RECOMMENDATION

Pursuant to SCR 3.370(9),[9] this Court adopts the recommendation of the Board given: 1) the severity of Reinhart's violations, [10] 2) his prior disciplinary record,[11] and 3) the fact that he has failed to respond to any prior correspondence.[12] Further, this Court has imposed disbarment for similar infractions. See Kentucky Bar Association v. Kessen, 311 S.W.3d 249 (Ky.2010) (adopting Board's recommendation for permanent disbarment for converting $7,650 in payment from a client when those checks should

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have been delivered to his law firm); Kentucky Bar Association v. Mathews, 308 S.W.3d 194 (Ky.2010) (disbarring attorney for promising to set up annuity for client from settlement proceeds but instead retaining funds and failing to respond to the KBA); Kentucky Bar Association v. Watson, 875 S.W.2d 96 (Ky.1994) (holding that permanent disbarment was appropriate for failure to remit $2,000 in settlement funds to client and failing to answer the charges). Agreeing that the Board's recommended sanction is appropriate, it is ORDERED that:

1. Reinhart is found guilty of the above-described violations of the Rules of Professional Conduct;
2. Reinhart is hereby permanently disbarred from the Kentucky Bar Association. He may never apply for reinstatement to the Bar under the current rules;
3. Pursuant to SCR 3.390, Reinhart shall, within ten days from the entry of this Opinion and Order: (a) notify, in writing, all clients of his inability to represent them, and of the necessity and urgency of promptly retaining new counsel; (b) notify, in writing, all courts in which he has matters pending of his suspension from the practice of law; (c) provide a copy of all such letters of notification to the Office of Bar Counsel; and (d) to the extent possible, immediately cancel and cease any advertising activities in which he is engaged; and
4. In accordance with SCR 3.450, Reinhart is directed to pay all costs associated with these disciplinary proceedings against him, said sum being $726.35, for which execution may issue from this Court upon finality of this Opinion and Order.

All sitting. All concur.

ENTERED: September 26, 2013.

/s/ John D. Minton, Jr.

/s/ Chief Justice


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