IN THE MATTER OF SOLOMON S. NEUHARDT, An Attorney at Law, Respondent.
Office of Disciplinary Counsel No. 12-225, 12-248
Shaun R. Thompson Chief Disciplinary Counsel
The Office of Disciplinary Counsel for the State of Montana ("ODC"), hereby charges Solomon S. Neuhardt with professional misconduct as follows:
1. Solomon S. Neuhardt, hereinafter referred to as Respondent, was admitted to the practice of law in the State of Montana in 2001, 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.
(ODC File No. 12-225)
3. ODC realleges and incorporates paragraphs 1 through 2 of the General Allegations as if fully restated in this Count One.
4. On August 31, 2009, Anthony Barron ("Barron") was injured in a motor vehicle accident near Three Forks, Montana.
5. On August 5, 2010, Barron entered into a Contingent Fee Agreement with Respondent. Under the terms of said agreement, Respondent was to pursue all claims for damages on Barron's behalf.
6. On September 15, 2010, Respondent filed a lawsuit on Barron's and his wife's behalf: Barron v. Truck Capital, LLC et al, Montana Eighteenth Judicial District Court, Gallatin County, Cause No. DV-10-1335C.
7. At all times pertinent hereto, the Defendants' liability insurance carrier was The Grange Mutual Casualty Group ("Grange").
8. In February 2011, Grange sent Respondent a check payable to "Neuhardt Law Firm, P.C." in the amount of $30, 310.13. The check was an advance to cover certain medical expenses incurred by Barron.
9. The check for $30, 310.13 was deposited into Respondent's IOLTA trust account on February 15, 2011. That same day, a check for $30, 310.13 payable to "NLF" was drawn on Respondent's trust account and deposited into Respondent's operating account. The memo line on the trust account check states it was for "Barron - Atty Fee."
10.During the period from August 30, 2011 through December 1, 2011, Respondent issued checks from his IOLTA trust account to pay for the medical expenses for which the $30, 310.13 was intended.
11.In violation of Rule 1.15, MRPC, Respondent failed to promptly notify his clients of his receipt of the $30, 310.13.
12.In violation of Rule 1.15, MRPC, Respondent failed to hold property belong to his clients and/or others separate from his own property and in accordance with Rule 1.18, MRPC.
13.In violation of Rule 1.15, MRPC, Respondent failed to promptly deliver funds to which Barron and/or the health care providers were entitled.
14.Respondent has advised ODC that he no longer has Barron's client ledger. In violation of Rule 1.18, MRPC, Respondent failed to keep records as required by the Trust Account Maintenance and Audit Requirements.
(ODC File No. ...