Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Kentucky Bar Association v. Humphries

Supreme Court of Kentucky

February 15, 2018

KENTUCKY BAR ASSOCIATION MOVANT
v.
KENNETH W. HUMPHRIES RESPONDENT

          OPINION AND ORDER

         Kenneth W. Humphries, Kentucky Bar Association (KBA) Number 34630, was admitted to the practice of law in the Commonwealth of Kentucky on October 22, 1980, and his bar roster address is 110 E. 9th St., P.O. Box 74, Hopkinsville, Kentucky, 42241. The Trial Commissioner recommends this Court find Humphries guilty of violating SCR 3.130-1.4(a)(4), SCR 3.130-1.15(a), SCR 3.130-1.15(e), and SCR 3.130-1.16(d). For these violations, the Trial Commissioner recommends Humphries be publicly reprimanded and ordered to repay fees to a client and successfully complete the next scheduled Ethics and Professionalism Enhancement Program (EPEP) offered by the Office of Bar Counsel; if Humphries fails to comply with the conditions of the public reprimand, the Trial Commissioner recommends that we suspend him from the practice of law for thirty days. For the following reasons, we adopt the Trial Commissioner's recommendation.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Ali Rekkbie hired an attorney to aid in a lawsuit against Rekkbie's former business partner. Since the first attorney Rekkbie hired had little litigation experience, she contacted Humphries to help her draft Rekkbie's complaint. Humphries aided Rekkbie's first attorney, and, after a month, she recommended that Rekkbie hire Humphries as "co-counsel at trial." Humphries agreed to take on Rekkbie's representation in that capacity, but the scope of his involvement in the case was never reduced to writing.

         Humphries sent Rekkbie a retainer agreement, explaining that Rekkbie would need to pay Humphries an advance fee of $2000 and that amount would be deducted from work performed by Humphries and his legal assistants, at their corresponding hourly rates. The rate schedule referenced in the retainer agreement was not, however, included. While Humphries had informed Rekkbie that he charged a rate of $200 per hour, there was no discussion about the hourly rate charged by Humphries's legal assistants. When Rekkbie called to inquire about the missing document, he was told it was irrelevant to his representation. Rekkbie signed the retainer agreement and wired Humphries $2000.

         For approximately six months, Humphries and his staff worked on Rekkbie's case-mostly reviewing documents and emails. Humphries never sent Rekkbie a billing statement. After failed attempts to schedule a conference call between Humphries, Rekkbie, and Rekkbie's other counsel, and after Humphries failed to attend a deposition, Rekkbie requested an itemized billing statement and a refund. More than a month later, Humphries had failed to return Rekkbie's phone calls or provide the statement. At that point, Rekkbie emailed Humphries, again asking for an itemized billing statement and a refund. Humphries responded to the email, indicating that he would provide the statement the following day, but that Rekkbie was not entitled to a refund. Humphries also told Rekkbie that he would file a motion to withdraw from Rekkbie's case. Humphries did neither.

         Over the course of the next three months, Rekkbie requested the statement and refund five more times. Humphries's staff corresponded with Rekkbie, but he was never sent the statement or refund-nor did Humphries withdraw from Rekkbie's case. Rekkbie filed a bar complaint after his final attempt at obtaining a billing statement and refund failed.

         The KBA finally obtained a billing statement from Humphries, showing both work by him and his office staff.[1] The statement showed that the work done in Rekkbie's case exceeded the $2, 000 retainer. The KBA Inquiry Commission issued a five-count charge against Humphries for the above-described conduct.

         II. TRIAL COMMISSIONER'S FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATION

         The Trial Commissioner considered the five-count charge against Humphries. The charge first alleged Humphries violated SCR 3.130-1.2 (abiding by client's decisions concerning objectives of representation). However, the KBA admitted it did not produce sufficient evidence that Humphries violated this rule.

         The second count charged Humphries with violating SCR 3.130-1.4(a)(4), which requires a lawyer to "promptly comply with reasonable requests for information." Humphries admitted to violating this rule.

         The third count charged Humphries with violating SCR 3.130-1.5(a), which forbids lawyers from charging or collecting unreasonable fees. The Trial Commissioner found Humphries guilty of this charge, as his agreement with Rekkbie did not disclose the rate at which services performed by Humphries's staff would be billed.

         The fourth count charged Humphries with violating SCR 3.130-1.15(e), which requires lawyers to place advance fees in a client trust account and to withdraw amounts only as fees are earned. Humphries admitted to violating this rule by failing to deposit Rekkbie's retainer in an escrow account until earned.

         Finally, Humpries was charged with violating SCR 3.130-1.16(d), which requires lawyers to protect their clients' interests. While the Trial Commissioner believed Humphries's and his staffs efforts in Rekkbie's case exceeded the $2, 000 retainer, the Trial Commissioner nonetheless found Humphries violated this rule by not protecting Rekkbie's interests by returning the portion of the fee for which no hourly rate was provided in the retainer agreement. Therefore, the Trial Commissioner found Humphries had violated the rule, and recommended that he be ordered to repay that portion of the fee to Rekkbie, which amounted to $480. In the alternative, the Trial Commissioner also found that Humphries's failure to withdraw from Rekkbie's case also violated this rule.

         For these violations, the Trial Commissioner recommends that this Court publicly reprimand Humphries and suspend him from the practice of law for thirty days, with that suspension probated so long as he repays Rekkbie $480 as a refund of the unearned ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.