Inactive lawyer being sued for allegedly appearing active in law firm's advertisements

By Johnnie Miller Cleaves | Jan 13, 2014

The St. Louis law firm Hullverson & Hullverson L.C. has filed a lawsuit against a law firm, a lawyer with the same last name and others saying they are breaking the law by advertising the services of an inactive lawyer.

The suit was filed Dec. 12 in St. Clair County Circuit Court against Thomas C. Hullverson, a resident of Arizona, as well as Stephen Ringkamp, a citizen and licensed attorney of Missouri, Mark Becker, a resident of Missouri and an attorney licensed in Missouri and Illinois, Thomas Burke and the Hullverson Law Firm P.C. 

Hullverson & Hullverson says the defendants are violating the Attorney Act of Illinois, Consumer Fraud and Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act of Illinois and the Lanham Act.

The complaint states that defendant John Hullverson moved to California in 1999 and the Hullverson Law Firm did not employ him as an attorney in 2000 or 2001 or thereafter. However paid advertisements for the law firm include biographies and photographs of John Hullverson.

Defendant Thomas Hullverson, who is 78 years old, retired and living in Arizona, has not had a residence in Missouri since 2001 and is an inactive lawyer, the suit claims. According to the foreign state law of Missouri, any lawyer who ceases to practice law in Missouri and does not pay annual enrollment fees shall be recorded as inactive and shall not be permitted to practice as an attorney.

Because Thomas Hullverson is inactive and illegible to practice law in Illinois, the defendants each are in violation of the Illinois Attorney Act and are in contempt of court, the suit claims. Also, in advertising Thomas Hullverson to provide legal services in Illinois each defendant has violated the Legal Business Solicitation Act of Illinois or aided and abetted violation of the law, the suit claims.

The complaint also states the defendants are in violation of the Lanham Act, for cyberpiracy when defendants misappropriated the plaintiff’s name and business name either claiming the plaintiff or plaintiff’s law office is related to defendant’s business by linking to its web domain.

It states that Thomas C. Hullverson has been an inactive member of the Missouri Bar since 2008 and unauthorized to practice law anywhere since that time or to advertise as an attorney in Illinois. Thomas C. Hullverson has advertised or provided legal services in Illinois either directly or indirectly without being licensed to practice and has violated the Attorney Act of Illinois and is guilty of contempt, the suit says.

The plaintiff asks that defendants pay a civil penalty of $5,000 for each violation to the Illinois Equal Justice Foundation and legal fees incurred by plaintiff.

Attorney James E. Hullverson is representing the plaintiff.

St. Clair County Circuit Court Case No. 13-L-615.

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