IN THE MATTER OF
CARL RANDALL STONE
VSB DOCKET NO. 03-060-1495 [00-062-0884]
Carl Randall Stone appeared in person, pro se. Deputy Bar Counsel Harry M. Hirsch appeared on behalf of the Virginia State Bar.
This matter came on for a show cause hearing pursuant to Rules of Court, Part Six, Section IV, Paragraph 13. G.5. Enforcement of Terms.
Upon the evidence and arguments presented during the show cause hearing, the Sixth District Committee finds by clear and convincing evidence that Carl Randall Stone failed to fulfill the following terms imposed by the Sixth District Subcommittee Determination (Private Reprimand with Terms) issued to him on June 3, 2002 in VSB Docket No. 00-062-0884:
1. By July 31, 2002, the Respondent shall establish a mentor relationship with an active member of the Virginia State Bar. Such mentor shall be experienced in the area(s) of worker's compensation and shall be approved by the Assistant Bar Counsel handling this case prior to the establishment of the mentor relationship. The mentor shall meet with the Respondent at least bimonthly before and during the time the Respondent is handling worker's compensation case. The mentor shall monitor whether the Respondent's practice complies with the rules and opinions of the Virginia State Bar and provide support and advice to the Respondent in the areas of worker's compensation, civil litigation and law office management. The Respondent shall provide satisfactory evidence of the name of his proposed mentor to the Assistant Bar Counsel handling these case by July 31, 2002. The mentor shall report to the Assistant Bar Counsel handling this case on a bi-monthly basis whether the Respondent has cooperated fully with the mentor in ensuring the Respondent's compliance with rules and opinions of the Virginia State Bar.
2. The Respondent shall develop and implement a written office policy relating to regular and informative client communications. This policy shall include provisions for providing clients with written copies of correspondence, pleadings and other documentation relating to representation, engaging in meetings either by telephone or in person to discuss the progress and answer status inquiries from clients or clients' designated agents, and the return of telephone inquiries from clients within twenty four working hours. The Respondent shall develop and implement a checklist for all correspondence related to appealed cases. The checklist shall include the date of correspondence and wether or not notice was sent to appropriate parties. The Respondent shall also develop and implement a written docket control system which will ensure that he reviews the status of all pending matters periodically, remind the Respondent in advance of key deadlines and other obligations, and otherwise serve as a malpractice tickler system. Both the office policy and the docket control system shall be implemented immediately. No later than July 31, 2002, the Respondent shall provide the Assistant Bar Counsel handling this matter with copies of the office policy and docket control system, and a written certification under oath that such office policy and docket control system are in use in the Respondent's office.
3. By January 15, 2003, the Respondent shall complete four (4) hours of continuing legal education credits by attending courses approved by the Virginia State Bar, two (2) hours in the area of ethics and two (2) hours in the area of worker's compensation,. His Continuing Legal Education attendance obligation set forth in this paragraph shall not be applied toward his Mandatory Continuing Legal Education requirement in Virginia or any other jurisdictions in which he may be licensed to practice law. He shall certify his compliance with the terms set forth in this paragraph by delivering a fully and properly executed Virginia MCLE Board Certification of Attendance Forms (Form 2) to Claude V. Worrell, II, Assistant Bar Counsel, at 100 North Pitt Street, Suite 310, Alexandria, Virginia 22314, promptly following his/er attendance of such CLE program(s).
Accordingly, the Sixth District Committee hereby imposes the alternative sanction of this Public Reprimand:
1. At all times relevant hereto the Respondent, Carl Randall Stone, Esq. (hereinafter the Respondent), has been an attorney licensed to practice law in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
2. In the fall of 1996, Michael Cooke (hereinafter the Complainant) hired the Respondent to represent him in a worker's compensation case concerning his neck.
3. The Complainant was successful in his worker's compensation claim. The Complainant was deemed to be temporarily totally disabled and entitled to full disability benefits up to November of 1994, and was on partial benefits until May 23, 1995, when he returned to unrestricted work. The February 15, 1995 award order lists the Complainant's address in Cobbs Creek, Virginia.
4. After the Complainant returned to work, he experienced some neck problems and required surgery to correct the problems. The Complainant believed that the neck problems were the direct result of his work injury and therefore were covered under his worker's compensation claim. However, his doctors and insurance company did not think that the injury was related to the worker's compensation claim and denied coverage.
5. In April of 1996, the Complainant had neck surgery. In August of 1995 and November of 1996, he had shoulder surgery. The Respondent told the Complainant that he would work on the case and try to get a hearing scheduled if there was evidence of a valid worker's compensation claim.
6. Shortly after the neck surgery, the Complainant lost contact with the Respondent. The Complainant recalls leaving messages for the Respondent and the Respondent returned some of the calls. The Respondent confirms that he and the Complainant stopped having contact by November of 1997. The Complainant called the Respondent in November of 1998 and advised him that he had a new attorney and wanted his file. The Complainant appeared at the Respondent's office a couple of days later to pick up his file. The Complainant informed the Respondent that he was living in Cobbs Creek. The Respondent did not communicate with the Complainant and did no discernable work on the Complainant's case from September 1996, to September 1998. The Respondent and the Complainant had little or no contact during this time.
7. The Respondent failed to file a change in condition application for the Complainant and did not preserve his client's interests in the worker's compensation complaint. Mary Ann Link, Chief Deputy Commissioner of the Worker's Compensation Commission (VWC), reviewed the Complainant's worker's compensation file and said the file contained a letter dated September 10, 1996 from the Respondent indicating that he had been hired to represent the Complainant. The Respondent had filed nothing else on behalf of the Complainant between September of 1996 and November 13, 1998. The Complainant filed a handwritten claim for benefits and/or a change in circumstances application on November 13, 1998. The filing was beyond the filing deadline. The Complainant had two years from his last payment to file a change in condition application.
8. On January 6, 1999, Ms. Link received a letter from the Respondent stating he no longer represented the Respondent. A hearing was scheduled as a result of the Complainant's filing. At the hearing, the Complainant's application for temporary benefits was denied. This decision was appealed. Ultimately, the Complainant was awarded medical benefits for the shoulder surgery but denied medical benefits for the neck surgery.
II. NATURE OF MISCONDUCT
Such conduct by Carl Randall Stone
constitutes Misconduct in violation of the following provisions of the Virginia
Code of Professional Responsibility:
DR 6-101. Competence and Promptness.
(A) A lawyer shall undertake representation
only in matters in which:
(1) The lawyer can act with competence
and demonstrate the specific legal knowledge, skill, efficiency, and thoroughness
in preparation employed in acceptable practice by lawyers undertaking similar
(2) The lawyer has associated with
another lawyer who is competent in those matters.
(B) A lawyer shall attend promptly
to matters undertaken for a client until completed or until the lawyer has properly
and completely withdrawn from representing the client.
(C) A lawyer shall keep a client
reasonably informed about matters in which the lawyer's services are being rendered.
(D) A lawyer shall inform his client of facts pertinent to the matter and of communications from another party that may significantly affect settlement or resolution of the matter.
DR 7-101. Representing a Client Zealously.
(A) A lawyer shall not intentionally:
(1) Fail to seek the lawful objectives
of his client through reasonably available means permitted by law and the Disciplinary
Rules, except as provided by DR 7-101(B). A lawyer does not violate this Disciplinary
Rule, however, by acceding to reasonable requests of opposing counsel which
do not prejudice the rights of his client, by being punctual in fulfilling all
professional commitments, by avoiding offensive tactics, or by treating with
courtesy and consideration all persons involved in the legal process.
(2) Fail to carry out a contract
of employment entered into with a client for professional services, but he may
withdraw as permitted under DR 2-108, DR 5-102, and DR 5-105.
(3) Prejudice or damage his client during the course of the professional relationship, except as required under DR 4-101(D).
Accordingly, it is the decision of the Sixth District Committee to impose a public reprimand and Carl Randall Stone is hereby so reprimanded.
The Clerk of the Disciplinary System
shall assess costs to Carl Randall Stone in accordance with Rules of Court,
Part Six, Section IV, Paragraph 13.B.8.c.
SIXTH DISTRICT COMMITTEE OF THE
VIRGINIA STATE BAR
William L. Lewis