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King v. Ky. Bar Ass'n

Supreme Court of Kentucky

August 21, 2014

JAMES GRANT KING, KBA Member No. 88465, MOVANT
v.
KENTUCKY BAR ASSOCIATION, RESPONDENT

Released for Publication September 3, 2014.

John D. Minton Jr., CHIEF JUSTICE. All sitting. All concur.

OPINION

John D. Minton Jr., CHIEF JUSTICE.

IN SUPREME COURT

OPINION AND ORDER

James Grant King has moved this Court to impose a partially probated suspension with conditions for his admitted violation of Supreme Court Rule (SCR) 3.130-1.15(a). The Kentucky Bar Association (KBA) has no objection to King's motion. King was admitted to practice law in the Commonwealth of Kentucky on October 23, 2000. His bar roster address is 115 Noah Cove, Suite A, Paducah, Kentucky 42003, and his KBA number is 88465.

I. BACKGROUND

On June 24, 2013, the Inquiry Commission charged King with two counts of violating SCR 3.130-1.15(a) which provides in pertinent part tat: " A lawyer shall hold property of clients or third persons that is

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in a lawyer's possession in connection with a representation separate from the lawyer's own property." The charges arose from King's representation of Mary Ann and Noble Faulkner related to their December 8, 2009, motor vehicle accident. We separately set forth the underlying facts related to the charges below.

In mid-April 2010, with Mary Ann's authorization, King settled her claim for $4,500.00. King deposited those settlement funds in his escrow account on April 20, 2010. King did not immediately distribute the settlement funds because he needed to verify whether Medicaid would assert a lien. On June 17, 2010, after Medicaid had advised King that it was not asserting any lien, King distributed Mary Ann's $2,925.00 portion of the settlement funds to her. Between the time he received the settlement funds and the time he distributed them, King failed to continuously maintain an escrow account balance sufficient to pay Mary Ann her portion of the funds.

On July 23, 2010, King received a $25,000.00 check in settlement of Noble's claim, which King deposited in his escrow account. As with Mary Ann's settlement, King did not immediately distribute any of the funds to Noble because of a potential Medicaid lien. On August 25, 2010, Medicaid indicated that it would be asserting a lien. Thereafter, King distributed $1,000.00 checks from the escrow account to Noble on November 3, 2010, December 7, 2010, and January 13, 2011. On January 11, 2011, Medicaid advised King that it would not be asserting a lien, and King advised Noble accordingly. At Noble's request King held the remaining settlement funds until November 21, 2011, when he remitted them to Noble. Between the time he received the settlement funds and the time he distributed them to Noble, King failed to continuously maintain an escrow account balance sufficient to pay the amount ultimately due Noble.

Finally, during the relevant time periods, King used funds from his escrow account to make payments to MetLife Home Mortgage, Parenting & Family Magazine, Nissan, Anthem Health Insurance, the Kentucky Unemployment Insurance Fund, and others. These payments were unrelated to King's representation of clients.

Based on the preceding facts, the Inquiry Commission issued a two count charge alleging that King violated SCR 3.130-1.15(a) by commingling his personal funds with the Faulkners', by overdrawing his escrow account, and by using funds in his escrow account to pay personal expenses. In response to the charges, King filed his affidavit and affidavits from a current and former employee stating that at all relevant times King had sufficient cash on hand in his office to pay the amounts due the Faulkners. According to King, he did not want to deposit the money into his " business ...


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