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Kentucky Bar Ass'n v. Fulmer

Supreme Court of Kentucky

August 21, 2014

KENTUCKY BAR ASSOCIATION, MOVANT,
v.
WILLIAM KELLY FULMER, II KBA Member No. 84145, RESPONDENT

Released for Publication September 3, 2014.

OPINION

IN THE SUPREME COURT

OPINION AND ORDER

JOHN D. MINTON JR., CHIEF JUSTICE.

The Board of Governors (the Board) of the Kentucky Bar Association (KBA) recommends this Court: suspend William Kelly Fulmer, II (Fulmer) from the practice of law for one-hundred-eighty-one days, to be run consecutively with a current suspension; [1] direct Fulmer to refund

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a $2,000.00 retainer fee to his client; refer Fulmer to the Kentucky Lawyer's Assistance Program (KYLAP); and order Fulmer to pay the costs associated with this proceeding. Finding sufficient cause to do so, we adopt the Board's recommendations, with conditions. Fulmer, whose KBA number is 84145 and whose bar address is 7505 Sussex Drive, Suite 215, Florence, Kentucky 41042, was admitted to the practice of law in the Commonwealth of Kentucky on October 17, 1991.

I. BACKGROUND.

On May 7, 2013, Perry DeMars (DeMars) filed a complaint with the KBA. In his complaint, DeMars alleged that he had purchased a car with a " clean title" from a car lot in Paris, Kentucky. A week after purchasing the car, DeMars discovered that it had previously been sold at auction in Mississippi as a " flood vehicle" with a salvage title. DeMars contacted Fulmer about representation, which representation Fulmer agreed to undertake. Pursuant to their representation agreement, DeMars paid Fulmer a $2,000.00 retainer. Sometime thereafter, DeMars spoke with Fulmer, and Fulmer indicated that he believed there could be a problem with a number of vehicle titles that had been processed through the clerk's office which issued DeMars's " clean title." Fulmer stated that he was waiting for additional information from the clerk's office before proceeding. DeMars did not hear from Fulmer again, although he attempted to contact Fulmer numerous times by voicemail, email, regular mail, and registered mail. Ultimately, DeMars notified Fulmer that his services were no longer needed, and DeMars requested return of his retainer and any paperwork Fulmer had. Fulmer did not respond, and DeMars filed the above referenced complaint with the KBA.

The KBA forwarded a copy of the complaint to Fulmer at the above address on May 15, 2013. However, Fulmer did not respond. At the request of the KBA, the Boone County Sheriff attempted to serve Fulmer with the complaint on June 17, 2013. The Sheriff advised the KBA on July 3, 2013, that he had not been able to locate or serve Fulmer. The KBA then served the Executive Director pursuant to Supreme Court Rule (SCR) 3.175(2),[2] on July 3, 2013. The KBA made one final attempt to serve Fulmer with the complaint at an alternate address on July 29, 2013. The envelope containing the copy of the complaint was returned as " unclaimed."

On October 28, 2013, the Inquiry Commission issued a Charge against Fulmer. That charge alleged that Fulmer violated: (1) SCR 3.130-1.3, by failing to diligently represent DeMars; (2) SCR 3.130-1.4(a)(3) by failing to keep DeMars informed about the status of his case; (3) SCR 3.130-1.4(a)(4) by failing to promptly comply with DeMars's requests for information; (4) SCR 3.130-1.16(d) by failing to take steps to protect DeMars's interests once representation had been terminated; and (5) SCR 3.130-8.1(b) by failing to respond to DeMars's complaint to the KBA.[3] As

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with DeMars's complaint, the KBA unsuccessfully attempted to serve the Charge on Fulmer by mail and through the Boone County Sheriff. Therefore, pursuant to SCR 3.175(2), the KBA served the Executive Director. As with the complaint, Fulmer has not responded to the Charge.

Based on the preceding, the Board unanimously found Fulmer guilty on all five counts in the Charge and recommended the sanctions as set forth above. Having reviewed this matter, we ...


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