The Illinois Attorney and Registration Commission (ARDC) has lodged a complaint against a former Belleville lawyer.
Jesse L. Trautmann was served last month with the three-count complaint, which stems from his representation of clients in three separate matters.
The ARDC accuses him of showing a lack of diligence in all three matters, making false representations in two and engaging in the unauthorized practice of law in one.
The first count of the complaint deals with Trautmann’s representation of Sheri Nantkes.
In October 2008, she had lens implant surgery performed on both of her eyes and began to have difficulty seeing shortly after.
Nantkes consulted with an attorney about filing a lawsuit in 2010. That attorney, Roy C. Dripps, told her he wouldn’t pursue the suit for her, but offered to represent her for the sole purpose of bringing the suit before the two-year period of limitations lapsed.
Dripps, according to the complaint, told her he would voluntarily dismiss the suit after filing it and that she would have to retain another attorney to re-file the matter and would also need a so-called"622 report" from a physician certifying the merits of her claim.
She agreed and in October 2010, Trautmann agreed to represent her. She then had her eye condition evaluated by a doctor, who agreed to provide the report, and told Trautmann to contact the doctor.
The ARDC asserts that Trautmann never communicated with the doctor or received the report and had made false statements to Nantkes, as well as in an affidavit attached to her lawsuit, that he had done otherwise.
The complaint also alleges that Trautmann failed to take the necessary steps to serve the complaint on the defendants or notify the Nantkes and the court that he was no longer authorized to practice law.
In January 2012, the ARDC asserts, Trautmann’s name was removed from the roll of attorneys in Illinois for failing to comply with the Mandatory Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) requirements.
His name remained stricken from the roll through the May filing of this complaint due to his noncompliance with the MCLE requirements and his failure to register with the ARDC in 2012 and 2013, the complaint notes.
The ARDC claims that Trautmann failed to notify the court that he was no longer authorized to practice law or withdraw as Nantkes’ attorney.
In addition, the complaint alleges that Trautmann failed to notify his client that one of the defendants in her suit filed a motion to dismiss based in part on the lack of a 622 report being filed.
Even though he was unauthorized to practice law, Trautmann told opposing counsel that he needed to continue a January 2012 hearing because he was ill. Opposing counsel agreed and a new hearing date was set.
On the date of the rescheduled hearing, Trautmann allegedly faxed a letter to the judge claiming he was in Texas and had to stay there for medical reasons. The judge granted the defendant’s motion to dismiss, an order the ARDC asserts he never informed his client of.
The second count of the ARDC complaint against Trautmann deals with his representation of Lyndell Walker.
In 2010, Trautmann agreed to represent Walker in his medical malpractice claim against a doctor who had performed emergency surgery on his right eye the year before.
The ARDC claims that Trautmann never communicated with a doctor who offered to provide expert evidence or took any steps to obtain the required 622 report.
The complaint also asserts that Trautmann failed to file a lawsuit for Walker before the two-year-limitations period lapsed and never informed his client that his claims had become time-barred.
After he filed Walker’s suit over the March 2009 surgery in October 2011, the ARDC claims that Trautmann failed to properly serve the complaint and took no further action for Walker in his matter.
In addition to a lack of diligence in Walker’s case, the disciplinary commission claims that Trautmann made false statements in an affidavit that claimed he had consulted with an expert and needed more time to file the 622 report even though he had not.
The third count of the ARDC complaint deals with Trautmann’s representation of Jerod Marsh.
Marsh retained Trautmann in 2010 to represent his family in a lawsuit over alleged mold contamination in their rental home.
Trautmann, according to the complaint, filed suit for the Marshes against the owner and manager of their rental home, but failed to properly serve one of the defendants.
After filing suit and serving one of the defendants, the ARDC claims Trautmann took no further action in the Marshes’ matter.
The complaint also accuses Trautmann of failing to file a response to and attend a hearing on the defendants’ motion to dismiss.
The ARDC further asserts that he failed to notify his clients about the hearing or the judge’s subsequent order that granted the motion to dismiss.
The complaint claims that Trautmann’s lack of diligence, false representations and unauthorized practice of law violated several rules of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct.
It requests the matter to be assigned to a panel of the ARDC Hearing Board, that a hearing be held and that a recommendation for discipline be made.