The Illinois Supreme Court on Monday suspended a Valparaiso, Ind. attorney accused of helping an East St. Louis lawyer file a frivolous lawsuit against his former clients.
Following the recommendation of the Illinois Attorney Registration & Disciplinary Commission (ARDC), the justices suspended Bruce Alan Carr from the practice of law for nine-months.
Carr, whose suspension will begin on Dec. 10, was one of several attorneys who received discipline from the justices on Monday, one of the last days of the court's November term.
They also ordered Carr to reimburse the Client Protection Program Trust Fund for any payments arising from the conduct that spurred the ARDC complaint against him and East St. Louis lawyer Lawrence Hess.
The court in September suspended Hess for a six-month period that began in October. Like Carr, Hess was also ordered to reimburse the Client Protection Program Trust Fund.
Both suspensions stem from complaints the ARDC filed against the pair in 2010. The ARDC accused Carr and Hess of bringing a lawsuit against Hess’ former clients for the purpose of harassment.
Hess represented Ronald and Cathy Loyd during his time at Kanoski & Associates, which he joined in 2001.
After Hess was fired in 2008, Carr sent a letter to the Loyds, stating that Hess was still responsible for their suit.
Carr then filed notices of attorney’s lien in three matters in which Hess previously represented the plaintiffs, claiming that Hess’s attorney-client relationships continued despite his termination from the firm.
He also filed a lawsuit on Hess’ behalf against the Loyds for breach of contract, unjust enrichment and tortious interference with an attorney’s lien.
The circuit and appellate courts ruled against Hess on the attorney’s lien matter, as well as his suit against the Loyds.
An ARDC hearing board in 2011 recommended that Hess be suspended for six months and Carr for nine months, saying that the pair sued the Loyds in an attempt to get Hess’ former law firm to settle a fee dispute.
Both attorneys filed exceptions to the board’s recommendation, but the majority of the ARDC review board upheld the suggestion.
The board determined that the recommended suspensions were appropriate because neither Hess nor Carr “has given us reason to believe that he will not repeat his misconduct.”
“Accordingly,” the review board stated in its report, “we conclude that a nine-month suspension for Carr and a six-month suspension for Hess are necessary to protect the public and the integrity of the legal profession."
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