SPRINGFIELD – Lawyers Bruce Carr and Lawrence Hess harassed an injury victim with baseless claims and deserve to lose their licenses for nine months and six months, a review board of the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission determined in June.
Carr and Hess notified the commission that they will file exceptions to the recommendation.
They seek to appeal to a special panel of attorneys that the Supreme Court would appoint.
Carr represented Hess in suing Ronald and Cathy Loyd of Litchfield, clients of Hess while he worked for Ron Kanoski in Springfield.
"They filed a lawsuit that was frivolous and totally without merit against Ronald and Cathy Loyd," review board members Claire Manning, George Marron and Carolyn Benning wrote.
They found no evidence that the Loyds remained Hess's clients after Kanoski fired him.
They found Carr and Hess sued innocent third parties as a negotiating ploy to get Kanoski to settle a fee dispute with Hess.
"Clearly, the Respondents' conduct demonstrated a complete lack of concern and respect
for Ronald and Cathy Loyd," they wrote.
"Respondent Carr's misconduct was more serious than Respondent Hess," they wrote.
"It is apparent from the evidence that Carr initiated the plan to file the lawsuit against the Loyds, and Hess ultimately gave Carr permission to proceed," they wrote.
They wrote that Carr and Hess thoroughly discussed and deliberated their course of action.
They wrote that Carr and Hess "do not understand the seriousness or wrongfulness of their misconduct and have no remorse."
Kanoski hired Hess, a Missouri resident, in 2001.
The Loyds retained Kanoski's firm for a medical malpractice action in 2002, and Kanoski assigned Hess to the case.
In 2007, Kanoski fired Hess and referred the Loyds to Ken Blan of Danville, who settled the suit.
Hess signed up as "of counsel" with the law firm of Rex Carr, father of Bruce Carr.
In 2008, Carr sent the Loyds a letter stating that Hess remained responsible for the suit.
Ronald Loyd sent a letter to Carr, telling him Hess wasn't responsible for it.
Loyd received a notice of attorney's lien that Carr and Hess filed against his settlement.
Loyd would testify to the review board that at a hearing, Carr told a judge that he and his wife were liars and they were committing perjury.
Carr then filed suit against the Loyds for Hess in Montgomery County circuit court.
Ronald Loyd showed the complaint to Kanoski, who said he would provide free defense.
His associate Todd Bresney moved for judgment on the pleadings and sanctions.
Carr sent Bresney a letter offering to settle if Kanoski and Blan would pay Hess a portion of fees they received in the Loyd case.
Nine days later, Carr specified that Hess would settle the Loyd litigation for $165,312, half of an escrow deposit from the malpractice case.
A judge granted Bresney's motion, finding the Loyds retained Kanoski's firm, not Hess.
The judge assessed sanctions of $9,275 in attorney fees and $114.82 in expenses.
Hess appealed, and Fifth District judges in Mount Vernon affirmed the judgment.
Review board members adopted the same view.
"It is clear from the evidence, including Ronald Loyd's testimony, that Loyd hired the Kanoski and Associates law firm and did not hire any individual employee or associate thereof," they wrote.
"Hess's own testimony showed that he declined to represent the Loyds in March 2007," they wrote.
"Hess had no statutory attorney's lien and no reason to believe he had," they wrote.
"The misconduct by the Respondents was egregious," they wrote.
They rejected a recommendation from commission administrator Jerome Larkin to charge
Carr and Hess with misconduct for suing Kanoski over fees in U.S. court for the Central District of Illinois.
Hess sought $316,616 in fees, but District Judge Michael McCuskey rejected his claim in
Hess appealed to the Seventh Circuit in Chicago, where the case remains pending.