IN THE MATTER OF BRIAN J. MILLER, An Attorney at Law, Respondent.
MRPC 2.1, 5.2, 3.1, 3.2, 3.4, 8.2(a)
Michael W. Cotter Chief Disciplinary Counsel Office of
Office of Disciplinary Counsel for the State of Montana
("ODC"), hereby charges Brian J. Miller with
professional misconduct as follows:
Allegations and Background
Brian J. Miller, hereinafter referred to as Respondent, was
admitted to the practice of law in the State of Montana in
2007, 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 Montana
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
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.
all times relevant, Respondent was a member of the Morrison,
Motl and Sherwood law firm, now known as the Morrison,
Sherwood, Wilson and Deola law firm (hereinafter
"MSWD") located in Helena, Montana.
Billie Redding ("Redding") is an elderly Montanan
who sold her family ranch in 2004 and was advised by her
accountants at Anderson ZurMuehlen & Co., P.C.
("AZ"), to invest the proceeds in a company that
subsequently went bankrupt in 2008.
Richard "Mike" Layne ("Layne") entered
into a contingency fee agreement with Redding to pursue her
claims against AZ and other individuals. Redding's claims
arose from AZ's alleged misconduct in advising her to
obtain tenancy-in-common ("TIC") shares of
properties owned by DBSI, Inc. ("DBSI"). Redding
incurred significant financial damages when DBSI became
insolvent. AZ similarly advised at least six other clients.
Layne is an Oregon attorney. Layne entered into an agreement
with Linda Deola ("Deola"), a member of MS WD, to
have her assist him in pursuing Redding's and others'
claims in Montana and to share attorney fees.
July 27, 2009, MSWD filed a lawsuit on Redding's behalf
against AZ and others in Montana First Judicial District
Court, Lewis and Clark County, Cause No. ADV 09-649.
After the lawsuit was filed, Deola and MSWD acquired five
other clients who also had claims against AZ. Deola was the
sole attorney for each of her other five clients. Since Deola
and Layne agreed to share any contingent fee in Redding's
case, her prospective contingent fee in her newer five
clients' cases would be higher than the fee she would
recover in Redding's case.
Deola and MSWD filed lawsuits against AZ on behalf of her
five newer clients alleging damages relating to their TIC
York Marine and General Insurance Company ("NYM")
is an insurance carrier that issued professional liability
insurance policies to AZ. There were two applicable