October 24, 2013
IN THE MATTER OF SCOTT G. HILDERMAN, An Attorney at Law, Respondent. ODC File No. 13-138
The Office of Disciplinary Counsel for the State of Montana ("ODC") hereby charges Scott G. Hilderman with professional misconduct as follows:
1. Scott G. Hilderman, hereinafter referred to as Respondent, was admitted to the practice of law in the State of Montana in 1996, at which time he took the oath required for admission, wherein he agreed to abide by the Rules of Professional Conduct, the Disciplinary Rules adopted by the Supreme Court, and the highest standards of honesty, justice, and morality, including but not limited to, those outlined in parts 3 and 4 of Chapter 61, Title 37, Montana Code Annotated.
2. The Montana Supreme Court has approved and adopted the Montana Rules of Professional Conduct (MRPC), governing the ethical conduct of attorneys licensed to practice in the State of Montana, which Rules were in effect at all times mentioned in this Complaint.
3. ODC re-alleges and incorporates paragraphs 1 through 2 of the General Allegations as if fully restated in this Count One.
4. Respondent was retained by Amee Rief (Rief) in November 2008 to pursue claims against her former boyfriend concerning the dissolution of their joint investment in real property in Lincoln County, Montana, as she had invested more than $14, 000 into the purchase. Rief also wanted to be removed from the mortgage encumbering the property.
5. Rief paid a total of $1, 225 to Respondent, constituting a $1, 000 retainer and $225 filing/service fee.
6. On December 18, 2008, Respondent contacted Rief s former boyfriend by mail with a demand for resolution. The correspondence included an attachment of a draft Complaint and Demand for Jury Trial dated December 2008 that was to be filed within ten business days if no resolution was reached.
7. Negotiations with the former boyfriend were unsuccessful, and Respondent advised Rief that he would file the Complaint in District Court within the week of March 30, 2010.
8. On or about July 14, 2010, Respondent advised Rief that the Complaint had been filed and would be served within that week.
9. On or about February 7, 2013, Respondent admitted the Complaint was never filed or served by offering a full refund of the retainer and filing/service fee. Thereafter, Respondent sent Rief a refund check in the amount of $1, 612.50, which included 10% interest.
10. Respondent was unable to locate Rief s physical file to determine why he had not in fact filed the Complaint as he indicated.
11. In violation of Rule 1.1, MRPC, Respondent failed to competently represent Rief in pursing her claims.
12. In violation of Rule 1.3, MRPC, Respondent failed to act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing Rief.
13. In violation of Rule 3.2, MRPC, Respondent failed to make reasonable efforts to expedite the litigation consistent with Rief s interests.
14. ODC re-alleges and incorporates paragraphs 1 through 2 of the General Allegations and paragraphs 4 through 10 of Count One as if fully restated in this Count Two.
15. In representing Rief, Respondent failed to regularly communicate with Rief as years passed without truthful updates about the lack of litigation and his failure to even file or serve the Complaint to pursue her claims.
16. In violation of Rule 1.4, MRPC, Respondent failed to keep Rief reasonably informed about the status of her matter.
17. ODC re-alleges and incorporates paragraphs 1 through 2 of the General Allegations and paragraphs 4 through 10 of Count One as if fully restated in this Count Three.
18. Respondent's affirmative statement made on or about July 14, 2010, that the Complaint had been filed was demonstrably false.
19. In violation of Rule 8.4(c), MRPC, Respondent engaged in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation.
WHEREFORE, the Office of Disciplinary Counsel prays:
1. That a Citation be issued to the Respondent, to which shall be attached a copy of the Complaint, requiring Respondent, within twenty (20) days after service thereof, to file a written answer to the Complaint;
2. That a formal hearing be had on the allegations of this complaint before an Adjudicatory Panel of the Commission;
3. That the Adjudicatory Panel of the Commission make a report of its findings and recommendations to the Montana Supreme Court, and, in the event the Adjudicatory Panel finds the facts warrant disciplinary action and recommends discipline, that the Commission also recommend the nature and extent of appropriate disciplinary action; and,
4. For such other and further relief deemed necessary and proper.