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Kentucky Bar Association v. Gevedon

Supreme Court of Kentucky

June 13, 2019

KENTUCKY BAR ASSOCIATION MOVANT
v.
KIMBERLY SHAWN GEVEDON RESPONDENT

          OPINION AND ORDER

         Kimberly Shawn I son Gevedon was admitted to practice law on October 13, 1995. Gevedon's bar roster address is P.O. Box 216, West Liberty, KY 41472, and her KBA number is 86102.

         Pursuant to Supreme Court Rule SCR 3.210, a number of disciplinary matters came before the Board of Governors (the Board) of the Kentucky Bar Association (KBA) as default cases. The Board recommended that Gevedon be suspended from the practice of law for 181 days; that she return the file and refund a former client in the amount of $1, 304.00; that she return the file and refund another former client in the amount of $4, 000.00; that she refund another former client in the amount of $981.00; that she return the file to another former client; and that she pay the costs of this proceeding in the amount of $1, 354.35. Finding sufficient cause to do so, we accept the Board's recommendation.

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. KBA File 17-DIS-0167

         Kimberly Ratliff retained Gevedon to represent her in a contested divorce action. Ratliff paid a retainer to Gevedon of $1, 500. Gevedon filed a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage on September 9, 2015. In response to a number of inquiries from Ms. Ratliff about the fact that the divorce action was not moving, Gevedon claimed to have been experiencing various health issues. In April of 2016, opposing counsel filed a motion for a final hearing which was set for June 6, 2016, at 10:30 a.m. Gevedon filed a motion to continue the final hearing and noticed it for June 6, 2016, at 9:00 a.m. She notified Ms. Ratliff that she would not need to appear. Neither Gevedon nor Ratliff appeared on June 6, and the motion to continue was denied. The divorce decree was entered on June 10, 2016. Ms. Ratliff terminated Gevedon's services, requested a refund of the retainer less the amount paid for the filing fee and hired a new attorney who pursued her pro se motion to vacate the decree. The retainer was never returned nor was the file provided to Ms. Ratliff.

         The Complaint in this matter was served on Gevedon on May 19, 2017. Beginning the day her response to the complaint was due, Gevedon asked for and received two continuances from Bar Counsel because her mother had a knee replacement and a subsequent setback. Gevedon then asked for a third continuance because she had been dealing with personal health issues and hospitalized a couple of times. On September 9, 2017, Bar Counsel informed Gevedon that any further continuance would only come by way of a motion filed with the Inquiry Commission. No motion or response was filed.

         The Commission then issued a Charge against Gevedon, alleging that she violated: SCR 3.130(1.3), which states that "a lawyer shall act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client;" SCR 3.l3O(l.4)(a)(3), which states that "a lawyer shall keep the client reasonably informed about the status of the matter;" SCR 3.l3O(l.l6)(d), which states that "Upon termination of representation, a lawyer shall take steps to the extent reasonably practicable to protect a client's interests, such as...surrendering papers and property to which the client is entitled and refunding any advance payment of fee or expense that has not been earned or incurred;" and SCR 3.l3O(8.l)(b), which states that a lawyer in connection with a disciplinary matter, shall not "knowingly fail to respond to a lawful demand for information from an admissions or disciplinary authority." The Charge was personally served on Gevedon by the Morgan County Sheriffs Department on March 20, 2018. She did not file an Answer to the Charge, and the Commission submitted the matter to the Board.

         B. KBA File 17-DIS-0326

         Marsha Cox (formerly Ball) hired Gevedon in April 2014 to represent her in a divorce action. Ms. Cox paid $4, 000 to Gevedon which included $1, 750 for the taking of three depositions. The Petition for Dissolution of Marriage was filed in May of 2014. After the court entered an order joining Ms. Cox's parents as indispensable parties, Gevedon filed a motion to alter, amend or vacate the order on June 20, 2015. She noticed it to be heard on July 6, 2015, but failed to appear on that date. The court denied the motion. Gevedon then filed a motion to set aside the court's order claiming that she thought the hearing had been continued because opposing counsel had filed a motion requesting a continuance. On July 15, 2015, the court granted the motion to set aside the prior order and set the matter for hearing on August 17, 2015. That hearing was continued multiple times to allow Gevedon to take depositions.

         On May 10, 2016, opposing counsel moved for a protective order to prevent the taking of the husband's deposition and for attorney's fees because Gevedon had scheduled and then canceled three prior depositions. At least one of these cancellations was due to a death in her family. The motion was to be heard on May 16, 2016. On May 16, Gevedon filed a motion to continue the hearing already scheduled for that day and to continue the final hearing, which had been scheduled for June 13. She noticed them for the same day but did not appear. The court granted opposing counsel's motion for a protective order and attorney's fees.

         Gevedon then filed a motion to set aside the May 16 order and noticed it for hearing on June 30. During this time period, Gevedon provided two doctors' notes to opposing counsel and the trial court excusing her from work for two weeks each. On June 13, the court rescheduled the final hearing for July 12. Gevedon failed to appear at the June 30 hearing that she had set on her own motion. On or about July 9, she sent Ms. Cox a text message saying that the July 12 final hearing had been canceled. This hearing, in fact, had not been canceled, and the court denied the motion to set aside the May 16 order and conducted the final hearing without Gevedon or Ms. Cox being present. In September, Ms. Cox received a Facebook message from Gevedon admitting that she had been wrong about the cancellation of the July 12 hearing.

         Gevedon subsequently filed an appeal of the findings and decree, paying $150 for the filing fee. She then failed to file a prehearing statement, so the Court of Appeals dismissed the appeal. Ms. Cox learned of the dismissal through a January 2017 letter from the court. Gevedon assured Ms. Cox that she would file appropriate papers to reinstate the appeal, but the appeal was finally dismissed on March 3, 2017, for failure to prosecute.

         Ms. Cox requested her file on multiple occasions but did not receive it. She also did not receive a refund of the $1, 750 that was earmarked for the taking of depositions which never occurred.

         The Complaint in this matter was served on Gevedon via certified mail on September 13, 2017. Gevedon requested and received an extension of time to file a response because her basement flooded. She failed to file a response.

         The Commission then issued a Charge against Gevedon, alleging that she violated: SCR 3.130(1.3), which states that "a lawyer shall act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client;" SCR 3.l3O(l.4)(a)(3) and (4), which states that "a lawyer shall (3) keep the client reasonably informed about the status of the matter; and (4) promptly comply with reasonable requests for information;" SCR 3.l3O(l.l6)(d), which states that "Upon termination of representation, a lawyer shall take steps to the extent reasonably practicable to protect a client's interests, such as...surrendering papers and property to which the client is entitled and refunding any advance payment of fee or expense that has not been earned or incurred;" and SCR 3.l3O(8.l)(b), which states that a lawyer in connection with a disciplinary matter, shall not "knowingly fail to respond to a lawful demand for information from an admissions or disciplinary authority." The Charge was personally served on Gevedon by the Morgan County Sheriffs Department on April 16, 2018. She did not file an Answer to the Charge, and the Commission submitted the matter to the Board.

         C. KBA File 18-DIS-0048

         Dallas Sparks hired Gevedon on June 2, 2016, to file a civil action on his behalf over a right-of-way easement in Morgan County. Mr. Sparks paid Gevedon $981.00, which included a $750.00 attorney's fee and a combined filing fee and service fee of $231.00. It does not appear that any lawsuit was ever filed, and since the time he paid Gevedon, Mr. Sparks ...


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