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Kentucky Bar Association v. Sparks

Supreme Court of Kentucky

February 15, 2018

KENTUCKY BAR ASSOCIATION MOVANT
v.
DAVID THOMAS SPARKS RESPONDENT

          OPINION AND ORDER

         David Thomas Sparks, Kentucky Bar Association (KBA) Number 85840, was admitted to the practice of law in the Commonwealth of Kentucky on October 13, 1995, and his bar roster address is listed as 1719 Ashley Circle, Suite 100, P.O. Box 1925, Bowling Green, Kentucky, 42102. Based on three separate KBA files, the Board of Governors recommends this Court find Sparks guilty of violating SCR 3.130-1.3 (three counts), 3.130-1.4(a)(3) (three counts), 3.130-1.4(a)(4) (three counts), 3.130-1.5, 3.130-1.15(a), 3.130-1.16(d) . (three counts), 3.130-3.4(c) (two counts), 3.130-5.5, and 3.130-8.4(c). For these violations, the Board recommends Sparks be permanently disbarred from the practice of law and pay all associated costs. For the following reasons, we adopt the Board's recommendation.

          I. BACKGROUND

         The current case spans three separate KBA files. We will address each in turn.

         A. KBA File Number 16-DIS-0353

         Larry Putty paid Sparks $20, 000 to represent his grandson Trevor in a civil lawsuit stemming from Trevor's assault. Service was never completed against the named defendant or several John Does identified in the complaint.

         The case was ultimately dismissed for lack of prosecution. Larry died the year after he paid Sparks to represent Trevor, and three years after all correspondence from Sparks ceased, two of Trevor's family members filed bar complaints against Sparks. Copies of the complaints were mailed to Sparks at his bar roster address, but were returned as undeliverable. Attempted service by the Warren County Sheriffs office also failed, and Sparks was served pursuant to 3.175(2) via service on the KBA Director. Sparks failed to respond to either bar complaint.

         Ultimately, the Inquiry Commission issued an eight-count charge, alleging Sparks had violated: (1) SCR 3.130-1.3 (by failing to act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing Trevor); (2) 3.130-1.4(a)(3) (by failing to keep Trevor reasonably informed about the status of his case); (3) 3.130-1.4(a)(4) (by failing to promptly comply with reasonable requests for information); (4) 3.130-1.5 (by collecting an unreasonable fee); (5) 3.130-1.15(a) (by failing to hold the funds paid him by Larry on Trevor's behalf separate from his own property); (6) 3.130-1.16(d) (by failing to protect Trevor's interests by giving him reasonable notice, surrendering Trevor's file, and refunding any unearned fee); (7) 3.130-3.4(c) (by knowingly disobeying an obligation under the rules of a tribunal); and (8) 3.130-8.4(c) (by engaging in conduct involving "dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation").

         Service of the charge was attempted in much the same way as it had been for the complaints. After other attempts at service failed, Sparks was served via the KBA Director. Sparks did not respond to the charge.

         B. KBA File Number 16-16157

         The facts concerning the second charge contained in the case at bar involve Larry Putty's daughter, Kandy Putty Fear and her husband Gregory. Kandy and Gregory paid Sparks a $2, 500 retainer to represent them in a legal matter related to real property. Sparks did file a lawsuit on Kandy and Gregory's behalf. However, after being granted a continuance in that case, he pursued no further action until after he was suspended from the practice of law by this Court in a separate matter, Kentucky BarAss'n v. Sparks, 480 S.W.3d 278 (Ky. 2016). Then, in spite of the fact that he was suspended from the practice of law at the time, Sparks filed a pretrial compliance statement and appeared before the court at a pretrial conference. Sparks failed to schedule his clients' depositions and did not return the phone calls or letters of opposing counsel. The trial court eventually dismissed the Fears' lawsuit for failure to prosecute the case after no one appeared in court on their behalf at a hearing.

          The Inquiry Commission filed a six-count charge against Sparks related to the Fears' case, alleging Sparks had violated: (1) SCR 3.130-1.3 (by failing to act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing the Fears); (2) 3.130-1.4(a)(3) (by failing to keep the Fears reasonably informed about the status of their case); (3) 3.130-1.4(a)(4) (by failing to promptly comply with the Fears' reasonable requests for information); (4) 3.130-1.16(d) (by failing to protect the Fears' interests by giving them reasonable notice, surrendering their file, and refunding any unearned fee); (5) 3.130-3.4(c) (by knowingly disobeying an obligation under the rules of a tribunal); and (6) 3.130-5.5 (by practicing law while under suspension from the practice).

         As with the previous file, service through the mail and the Sheriffs office upon Sparks were unsuccessful. Service was completed through the KBA Director, and, again, Sparks responded to neither the complaint nor the charge.

         C. KBA File Number 17-DIS-0108

         Finally, Bobby Gilmer hired Sparks to file a lawsuit on his behalf against a contractor. Gilmer, an elderly retired veteran, paid Sparks $2, 500 as an advance retainer. Sparks's sole communication with Gilmer was one letter regarding the representation. Gilmer ...


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