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In re Freedman

Supreme Court of Montana

August 30, 2018

IN THE MATTER OF DAVID S. FREEDMAN, An Attorney at Law, Respondent.

          Michael W. Cotter Chief Disciplinary Counsel Office of Disciplinary Counsel

          COMPLAINT, MRPC 1.1, 1.3, 1.4, 1.16(d), 8.1

         Upon leave of the Commission on Practice granted on August 28, 2018, the Office of Disciplinary Counsel for the State of Montana ("ODC") hereby charges David S. Freedman with professional misconduct as follows:

         General Allegations and Background

         1, David S, Freedman ("Freedman") was admitted to the practice of law in the State of Montana in 2009, at which time he took the oath required for admission agreeing 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 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. On May 28, 2015, Joyce Warner and Amanda Warner ("Warners") hired Freedman and Freedman and Assoc. Law Group to represent them in a personal injury matter that resulted from a motor vehicle accident. Amanda signed a contingency fee agreement on May 28, 2015. (See, Legal Services Agreement, 5/28/2015, Exhibit 1.)

         4. After months of no contact from Freedman, despite numerous attempts, and after no progress toward a settlement of Amanda's claim with the insurance company, Warners fired Freedman on September 20, 2017. (See, Warner 9/20/2017 Letter to Freedman, Exhibit 2.) In their letter, Warners requested he send them all documents related to Amanda's case. He did not.

         5. Shortly after firing Freedman, Joyce contacted the insurance company directly, and by September 26, 2017, had successfully negotiated a settlement for an amount over and above the total losses sustained from the accident. (See, Warner Sept. 25-26, 2018 Email Exchange with Great West Casualty Company, Exhibit 3; and Release of All Claims, Exhibit 4.)

         6. After several inquiries by ODC requesting a response to Warners' grievance, Freedman failed to respond, as required by Rule 8.1, MRPC. ODC sent three separate letters to Freedman to the addresses on file with the State Bar of Montana. The two letters that were sent via certified mail to those addresses on file were returned unclaimed. Although one letter sent via first class mail was returned, the other two sent to those addresses were not. (See, ODC Letters and Envelopes to Freedman, Exhibits 5-10.)

         7. As an aggravating factor, the Montana Supreme Court publicly censured Freedman on January 10, 2017 for his actions in three prior cases. (See, Order, Exhibit 11.) In re David S. Freedman, Supr. Ct. Case No. PR 16-0239. He admitted violations of several Rules of Professional Conduct and consented to the discipline imposed. Id. In one case, Freedman admitted to violating Rules 1.1, 1.3, and 3.4(d), MRPC. In the second case, Freedman admitted violations of Rules 1.1, 1.3, 1.4, and Rule 1.16(d), MRPC. In the third case, Freedman admitted to violating of Rule 1.4 and Rule 1.16(d), MRPC. (See, Conditional Admission and Affidavit of Consent, Exhibit 12.)

         Count One

         ODC realleges and incorporates paragraphs 1 through 7 of the General Allegations as if fully restated in this Count One.

         8. By failing to negotiate an insurance settlement for his client after more than two years, Freedman did not represent her ...


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