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In re Morigeau

Supreme Court of Montana

January 22, 2018

IN THE MATTER OF JOSHUA MORIGEAU, An Attorney at Law, Respondent.

          Jon. Moog Deputy Disciplinary Counsel

          COMPLAINT

         Upon leave of the Commission on Practice granted on January 11, 2018, the Office of Disciplinary Counsel for the State of Montana hereby charges Joshua Morigeau with professional misconduct as follows:

         General Allegations

         1. Joshua Morigeau, hereinafter referred to as Respondent, was admitted to the practice of law in the State of Montana in 2010, 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.

         Count One

         3. ODC realleges and incorporates paragraphs 1 through 2 of the General Allegations as if fully restated in this Count One.

         4. Respondent entered into a Contingency Fee Agreement with George Swanson ("Swanson") on October 5, 2011 for representation regarding property damage and bodily injuries resulting from a September 5, 2011 automobile accident. Swanson's insurance carrier was USAA Auto Insurance. Traveler's Insurance was the carrier for the other driver, Christine Floyd, and her company, Solairus Aviation.

         5. Swanson had pre-existing injuries from a 2003 plane crash. Respondent discussed with and Swanson understood the complexities involved regarding his recent injuries as they related to his pre-existing injuries.

         6. In July 2016, Swanson advised Respondent that the insurance carrier was not paying his medical expenses and, because of the financial burden of having to pay them himself, requested Respondent "move the case along." Respondent advised Swanson that he would request the insurance company to pre-authorize his doctor visits.

         7. Respondent failed to follow through with the insurance company and Swanson continued to pay for his medical expenses. Following his July 2016 conversation with Respondent, Swanson was unable to either locate or contact Respondent. Swanson's phone calls and voice messages went unanswered.

         8. Respondent advised ODC that, at the time of his July 2016 conversation with Swanson, he was confronting health issues and had to reduce his practice. Respondent did not share that information with Swanson, nor did he notify Swanson when he changed offices and cancelled his phone number. Swanson was unaware that Respondent's phone number had been disconnected until he attempted to reach him on September 1, 2016.

         9. In a phone conversation on February 14, 2017 following Swanson's submission of an ethics grievance concerning the representation, ODC explained to Respondent that he had the option to attempt to resolve the grievance through direct communications with Swanson. Swanson advised ODC in an April 27, 2017 phone call that Respondent had still not been in contact with him. In a subsequent phone call to Respondent the same day, Respondent advised ODC that he believed he had been barred from contacting Swanson because of the grievance - despite ODC's conversation with him to the contrary on February 14, 2017.

         10. By failing to maintain communications with his client concerning the status of his matter as outlined above, ...


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