Filed February 23, 2007

In re Lea Anne Sargent
Commission No. 04 CH 129

Synopsis of Hearing Board Report and Recommendation

NATURE OF THE CASE: 1) charging and collecting an unreasonable fee; 2) engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation; 3) engaging in conduct which tends to defeat the administration of justice or to bring the courts or the legal profession into disrepute

RULES DISCUSSED: Rule 1.5(a) and 8.4(a)(4) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct and Supreme Court Rule 770

RECOMMENDATION: Thirty (30) day suspension

DATE OF OPINION: February 23, 2007

HEARING PANEL: David F. Rolewick, Chair, William M. Dickson and William Gabbard

RESPONDENT'S COUNSEL: Sherry J. Daun and Ethan P. Mandziara

ADMINISTRATOR'S COUNSEL: Cass R. Buscher

BEFORE THE HEARING BOARD
OF THE
ILLINOIS ATTORNEY REGISTRATION
AND
DISCIPLINARY COMMISSION

In the Matter of:

LEA ANNE SARGENT,

Attorney-Respondent,

No. 6271425.

Commission No. 04 CH 129

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION OF THE HEARING BOARD

INTRODUCTION

The hearing in this matter was held on May 17 and 18, 2006, at the offices of the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission ("ARDC"), Chicago, Illinois before a Hearing Board Panel consisting of David F. Rolewick, Chair; William M. Dickson and William Gabbard. Cass R. Buscher appeared as Counsel for the Administrator. Sherry J. Daun and Ethan P. Mandziara appeared as Counsel for the Respondent and the Respondent was present.

PLEADINGS

On November 17, 2004, the Administrator filed a Complaint against the Respondent pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 753(b). The Complaint alleged the Respondent falsely billed clients for work she had not performed.

The Respondent filed an Answer to the Complaint on January 18, 2005, in which she admitted some of the factual allegations, denied some of the factual allegations and denied all of the allegations of misconduct.

THE EVIDENCE

The Administrator presented the testimony of Carmel Cosgrave, Rita Gitchell, Elizabeth Ebert, Sharon Blaszak and Charles Linebaugh and Exhibits 5, 6, 8, 10, 12-15. The Respondent

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presented her testimony and the testimony of Nancy Brent, Inhak Lee, Monalisa Dugue, Patrick Cage, Larry Rogers, Jr. and Lynnette Crafton and Exhibits 4, 5, 7, 9, 12, 13. The testimony of the witnesses, the admitted allegations of the Complaint and the Exhibits established the following facts.

Admitted Facts

From May 2000 through November 26, 2003, the Respondent was employed as an associate at the law firm O'Hagan, Smith & Amundsen ("O'Hagan") in the firm's Chicago Office. The Respondent concentrated her practice in litigation, primarily in the defense of hospitals and doctors in medical malpractice claims. The clients the Respondent represented included Advocate Health Care ("Advocate") and individuals or businesses insured through CNA Insurance ("CNA") and Traveler's Insurance Group ("TIG").

During the period the Respondent was an associate with O'Hagan she prepared daily records of the time she expended in connection with the representation of the firm's clients. The records detailed the type of work she performed, the amount of time she spent and the client matter related to the work. The firm billed the clients for the work the Respondent reported in her records.

Testimony

Carmel Cosgrave

Ms. Cosgrave is a partner at O'Hagan and is responsible for the medical malpractice defense group, which is comprised of six or seven attorneys and two nurse paralegals. (Tr. 15-17). Ms. Cosgrave hired the Respondent in January 2000 as a nurse paralegal to review medical records and then as an associate when the Respondent passed the bar exam in the spring of 2000. (Tr. 20). The Respondent worked at O'Hagan in the medical malpractice defense group until

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November 2003. (Tr. 21). Ms. Cosgrave was the Respondent's supervisor the entire time she was at the firm. (Tr. 21).

The Respondent prepared abstracts of medical records and depositions and drafted pleadings, reports to clients and took depositions. (Tr. 22). An abstract of a medical record is prepared by reviewing the record and documenting the information in a table format to make it easier to sort and combine with other information. (Tr. 23). An abstract of a deposition is prepared by reviewing the transcript of a deposition and summarizing by page what a particular witness said. (Tr. 25). Ms. Cosgrave encouraged the attorneys in her group to promptly prepare reports to clients summarizing depositions after they took them. (Tr. 25-6).

Ms. Cosgrave was very impressed with the Respondent's intelligence and strong communication skills; and initially, the Respondent excelled as an associate. (Tr. 31). In January 2003, Ms. Cosgrave saw a marked reduction in the Respondent's work. (Tr. 32). She was consistently behind in her assignments and the number of hours she billed. (Tr. 32). Ms. Cosgrave had several conversations with the Respondent about her concerns regarding the Respondent's performance. (Tr. 32).

The Respondent told Ms. Cosgrave she had taken a position with another firm in October 2003. (Tr. 34). Shortly after the Respondent left O'Hagan in November 2003, Ms. Cosgrave became aware that the Respondent had billed a client for abstracts of medical records that were never completed. (Tr. 34-5).

Documents created on the computer system at O'Hagan are saved. (Tr. 28-9). O'Hagan also maintains complete hard copy files for each case. (Tr. 29). Each document created on the computer is saved and printed out for the hard file. (Tr. 29). This process was in place while the Respondent was at O'Hagan. (Tr. 31).

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Ms. Cosgrave searched the file on the computer system and the hard file for the abstracts and could not locate them. (Tr. 35-6). Ms. Cosgrave asked Elizabeth Ebert, a paralegal the Respondent had given a lot of work to when she left, for a list of the work Respondent had assigned to her in order to conduct an additional investigation into the Respondent's billing charges. (Tr. 36). As a result, she discovered the Respondent had billed clients for other work she had not completed on multiple files and alerted the firm's executive committee by calling the chair, Glen Amundsen and updating him through email correspondence. (Tr. 35-6).

Ms. Cosgrave conducted an audit of the Respondent's billing from January 2002 through November 2003 and had her partners Rita Gitchell and Patrick Cage assist her because there were approximately 400 pages of billing data to review. (Tr. 37, 40). She prepared a memo dated December 6, 2003, to document her and Mr. Cage's findings after searching for the missing documents. (Adm. Ex. 5; Tr. 37, 40). Ms. Cosgrave spent approximately five hours searching for the missing documents. (Tr. 40-1).

Ms. Cosgrave prepared an updated version of her memo dated December 9, 2003, that reflected her secretary, Sharon Blaszack, had not located any of the documents Ms. Cosgrave and Mr. Cage had indicated were missing after completing a search of the hard files on December 8, 2003. (Adm. Ex. 6; Tr. 43, 68). Ms. Cosgrave did not instruct Ms. Blaszak to search the entire computer system to find each missing document, but she did ask her to search the entire computer system for some of the documents. (Tr. 67). She also did not ask Ms. Blaszak to search outside of the case number when she searched the hard files or to search through every file in the office. (Tr. 67, 77).

Ms. Cosgrave prepared an additional update to the memo regarding the missing work dated December 12, 2003, which reflected Ms. Gitchell's findings after her search for the

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missing documents. (Adm. Ex. 8; Tr. 43). Ms. Gitchell wrote a notation on the memo indicating that she thought there was a copy of the deposition summary of Dr. Siddiqui, which Ms. Cosgrave had listed as missing. (Adm. Ex. 5; Tr. 39). Ms. Cosgrave does not know when Ms. Gitchell wrote this notation or when Ms. Cosgrave first saw it. (Tr. 74).

Ms. Cosgrave met with the Respondent on December 12, 2003. (Tr. 46). The Respondent stated that she never billed for work that she did not complete. (Tr. 47). However, according to Ms. Cosgrave, the Respondent was not forthcoming with information about where Ms. Cosgrave could find the work she was unable to locate. (Tr. 46-7). The Respondent raised an issue about a secretary that had worked for her in 2002; but Ms. Cosgrave told her that most of the work at issue was billed for in 2003, and therefore she did not think that was a valid explanation. (Tr. 47). Ms. Cosgrave encouraged the Respondent to check her home computer for the work. (Tr. 48). Ms. Cosgrave testified that the Respondent declined an opportunity to come into the office and review the computer system and hard files to locate the documents, but she did offer to create the work to maintain client goodwill. (Tr. 48).

Ms. Cosgrave's investigation also included speaking to the Respondent's secretary and and meeting with individuals in the financial department to determine the amount of money that should be refunded to clients for work the Respondent billed for but did not complete. (Tr. 44-5). Ms. Cosgrave sent an email to Mr. Amundsen on December 22, 2003, which contained an updated list of missing documents that Respondent had billed clients for preparing. (Adm. Ex. 10; Tr. 48).

Ms. Cosgrave testified that her firm refunded Advocate $14,911.50, CNA Health Pro $12,542.50, CNA Commercial $2,240 and TIG $2,842.50 for time entries the Respondent billed to the clients for work that Respondent did not complete in December 2003 and early January

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2004. (Adm. Ex. 12-15, Tr. 57-61, 79). The clients were provided with a summary of the Respondent's billing charges that they were being refunded and copies of the invoices the clients had previously received which contained those billing charges. (Adm. Ex. 12-15).

Ms. Cosgrave's December 22, 2003 email to Mr. Amundsen and the invoices attached to the refunds provided to the clients identified the following missing work, the Respondent's corresponding billing charges, the rate the client was billed by the Respondent and Ms. Cosgrave's findings regarding her search for the missing work:

Case

Missing Work

Billing Charge

Rate

Ms. Cosgrave's Findings

Smith v. LGH
2000278
Abstracted subpoenaed records of Fertility Centers of Illinois 01/28/03, 3.4 hours $145/hour Abstract on system but looks like it was done by LJH on 09/04/03. We can't account for the first 75 pages. Mary to check to see if billed on earlier invoice.
Smith v. LGH
2000278
Abstracted subpoenaed records from Dr. Bernheim 03/31/03, 1.6 hours
04/03/03, 1.3 hours
$145/hour Not on system. Given to Betsy on 11/26/03 by Lea.
Smith v. LGH
2000278
Abstracted subpoenaed records from Dr. Lifchez 04/02/03, 3.6 hours $145/hour Same as above
Smith v. LGH
2000278
Abstracted subpoenaed records from Dr. Chams 04/02/03, 1.7 hours $145/hour Same as above
Smith v. LGH
2000278
Abstracted subpoenaed records of Dr. Rosenblum 04/03/03, 5.6 hours $145/hour See above
Smith v. LGH
2000278
Abstracted subpoenaed records from Philomena Mc Andrews 04/17/03, 2.8 hours
4/29/03, 3.9 hours
$145/hour Not on system. Set with Besty. System also shows Abst by LJH of "Philomena records"
Smith v. LGH
2000278
Abstracted records of Dr. LaFave 04/28/03, 4.0 hours $145/hour Not in system

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Case

Missing Work

Billing Charge

Rate

Ms. Cosgrave's Findings

Smith v. LGH
2000278
Abstracted deposition of Melanie Smith Part I 05/07/03, 4.7 hours $145/hour Not in system
Kelly v. Advocate
2000462
Prepared summary of meeting with Butler 06/14/02, 1.1 hours $130/hour Not in system
Kelly v. Advocate
2000462
Abstracted deposition of Mae Kelly 06/19/03, 1.5 hours $145/hour Not in system
Kelly v. Advocate
2000462
Abstracted depositions of Archie & Collins No charge appeared on invoice.
Email reflected billed on 08/05/03.
Not in system
Kelly v. Advocate
2000462
Prepared deposition summary of Archie & Collins No charge appeared on invoice.
Email reflected billed on 08/19/03.
Previously billed 07/11/03
Ramos - Kulp (TIG)
1102334
Abstracted subpoenaed records from Illinois Department of Public Health 07/30/02, 1.5 hours $145/hour Not on system
Ramos - Kulp (TIG)
1102334
Abstracted subpoenaed records from Sherman Hospital 07/31/02, 3.1 hours $145/hour Not on system
Ramos - Kulp (TIG)
1102334
Abstracted records from Rockford Memorial Hospital 07/31/02, 5.6 hours $145/hour Not on system
Ramos - Kulp (TIG)
1102334
Abstracted records from Rockford Memorial Hospital 08/12/02, 5.2 hours $145/hour Not on system

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Case

Missing Work

Billing Charge

Rate

Ms. Cosgrave's Findings

Howard (TIG)
2002913
Prepared deposition summary of Dr. Siddiqui 03/26/03, 1.5 hours $155/hour Not on system
Smothers v. Advocate
2000007
Abstracted subpoenaed records from Palos Home Care Nursing 05/09/03, 3.1 hours
05/14/03, 8.5 hours
05/16/03, 8.2 hours
05/19/03, 5.7 hours
05/20/03, 6.5 hours
$145/hour Not in system
Holliday v. Hoard
2001658
Abstracted Bethany Hospital records 10/07/02, 7.1 hours
10/08/02, 3.0 hours
10/10/02, 3.9 hours
$130/hour Not in system; to Ebert 11/26/03
Holliday v. Hoard
2001658
Abstracted subpoenaed records from Manor Care 03/31/03, 2.6 hours $145/hour Not in system; to Ebert 11/26/03
Holliday v. Hoard
2001658
Abstracted deposition of Monique Hayes 08/05/03, 1.8 hours $145/hour Not in system. Dep summary of Monique Hayes was found.
Goodwin v. Advocate
2003236
Abstracted Bethany Hospital records 06/06/03, 8.1 hours
06/09/03, 7.3 hours
06/16/03, 3.4 hours
$145/hour Not in system - a tape was delivered along with records on 12/17/03. It has not been transcribed yet.
Dallmann v. Can Do It
991839-cmc
Abstracted deposition of G. Hernandez No charge appeared on invoice.
Email reflected billed on 02/08/02.
$140/hour Found

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Case

Missing Work

Billing Charge

Rate

Ms. Cosgrave's Findings

Dallmann v. Can Do It
991839-cmc
Abstracted deposition testimony of Joan McGean 09/12/02, 1.8 hours $140/hour There appears to be a partially edited transcript on system, we are considering this the abstract
Dallmann v. Can Do It
991839-cmc
Abstracted deposition testimony of Bill Mc Gean 09/13/02, 2.7 hours $140/hour Not on system
Dallmann v. Can Do It
991839-cmc
Abstracted Keith Paskiewicz ‘s Deposition 09/27/02, 2.3 hours
10/02/02, 3.5 hours
$140/hour Not on system
Dallmann v. Can Do It
991839-cmc
Abstracted deposition of Ed Schaeffer 10/02/02, 3.3 hours $140/hour Not on system
Dallmann v. Can Do It
991839-cmc
Prepared summary of Angela Dallmann's deposition 12/16/02, 1.2 hours $140/hour Not on system
Dallmann v. Can Do It
991839-cmc
Abstracted deposition of Angela Dallmann 01/29/03, 3.0 hours $140/hour Not on system
Turner v. Salem
2002261
No charge appeared on invoice or email. $140/hour Inhak's and others time were saved under Lea's name. Appears to be an error in time sheet entry.
Cannova
1102177
Multiple entries for "abstracting records from Swedish American Hospital" (email stated the records were from Palos) 86.5 hours $145/hour The records were reported on, but no abstract was included.

(Adm. Ex. 10; 12 at 7, 11, 17-0, 26, 31, 37, 42, 49, 53, 60; 13; 14 at 5, 9; 15 at 10, 13, 18, 32, 44).

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None of the clients to whom the O'Hagan firm provided a refund terminated their relationship with O'Hagan, but this incident affected Ms. Cosgrave's relationship with all of them. (Tr. 64). Ms. Cosgrave rarely received inquires from clients regarding their bills, but after she provided the refunds she received questions from clients about every type of charge. (Tr. 64). O'Hagan also received less work from the affected clients. (Tr. 65). Ms. Cosgrave refunded money for at least two documents, the Butler summary and Dr. Siddiqui deposition, that she later discovered existed. (Tr. 49-50, 75).

When the Respondent left O'Hagan her files were assigned to Linda Newman, Inhak Lee, Barbara Gallant and Mr. Cage. (Resp. Ex. 5; Tr. 75). Ms. Cosgrave directed the attorneys to assume responsibility for the files, but she did not inform any of those attorneys, except for Mr. Cage, about the search for the Respondent's missing documents out of respect for the Respondent's privacy. (Tr. 76).

After a complaint was submitted to the ARDC regarding the Respondent, Ms. Cosgrave spoke with Chuck Linebaugh, who was the head of O'Hagan's information systems department and asked him to do a comprehensive search of the computer system to ensure that the missing documents were not hidden in a file or drive that could not be identified. (Adm. Ex. 11; Tr. 51-2, 67).

The Respondent has consistently denied the allegations of false billing. (Tr. 70). Even though two of the missing documents were subsequently found, Ms. Cosgrave said she highly doubts that the remainder of the missing documents exist but cannot be found. (Tr. 87). Ms. Cosgrave has had many associates come under her supervision, and this is the first and only time she has experienced a lack of documentation of this magnitude based on a review of billing. (Tr. 88).

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Rita Gitchell

Ms. Gitchell is a partner at O'Hagan and works in the medical malpractice group. (Tr. 92). She testified that she works out of the St. Charles office, and in 2002 and 2003 she worked out of the Wheaton office. (Tr. 92).

Ms. Gitchell worked with the Respondent while she was at O'Hagan and was aware of her resignation in November 2003. (Tr. 92-3). After the Respondent left O'Hagan, Ms. Gitchell was asked by Ms. Cosgrave to assist in searching for some documents that were missing. (Tr. 92-3). She was given a list of cases and asked to review the files and determine whether the documents that were billed for were in the files. (Tr. 93).

Ms. Gttchell did a general audit of the files by looking in the hard file and on the computer. (Tr. 96). She searched under the subfolders for the files she was asked to examine on the computer, but did not do a full network search or look under different file numbers. (Tr. 96, 110-1). She also did not search all the hard files in the office nor did she ask the secretaries if they had any loose filing. (Tr. 112). She was not the principal attorney on one of the files she searched and she did not have the partner that was responsible for the files check the results of her search. (Tr. 112).

Ms. Gitchell wrote a notation on the list of missing documents that Dr. Siddiqui's deposition summary existed. (Adm. Ex. 5; Tr. 97, 116). She did not recall when she found Siddiqui's deposition summary or when she made the notation that it existed. She stated she probably made the notation close to the time she received the list in early December 2003. (Tr. 97-8, 103, 0116). Ms. Gitchell knew the document existed because it was in her files. (Tr. 103).

When the Respondent left O'Hagan, Ms. Gitchell asked the Respondent to return part of the Cannova file to her. (Tr. 98). When the file was returned, Ms. Gitchell noticed an abstract of

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medical records from Swedish American Hospital that the Respondent had billed time for preparing was missing. (Tr. 98, 104, 107). She had instructed the Respondent to send abstracts from the Cannova file to the client, but she did not directly ask the client if it had received the missing abstract. (Tr. 99, 114).

Ms. Gitchell found a summary dated July 22, 2003. (Resp. Ex. 4; Tr. 105-7). The Respondent had written the client regarding the information gained from abstracting the records. (Resp. Ex. 4; Tr. 105-7). Ms. Gitchell did not know whether it was possible for the Respondent to have completed the summary without completing the abstract first, but typically a summary is created after an abstract is completed. (Tr. 107, 114-5).

Elizabeth Ebert

Ms. Ebert has worked in the medical malpractice group at O'Hagan as a nurse analyst since June 1, 2003. (Tr. 123-4). Ms. Ebert reviews medical records and prepares abstracts for attorneys to review. (Tr. 124). She testified that when the Respondent left O'Hagan she gave Ms. Ebert a large volume of cases, including the Smothers case, with medical records that needed to be abstracted. (Tr. 125-7). Ms. Ebert could not find abstracts of medical records for some of the older cases that should have already been completed. (Tr. 128). She asked Ms. Cosgrave whether a decision had been made not to abstract those records and learned that the abstracts had not been finished. (Tr. 126-8).

There was a string of emails between Ms. Ebert and Ms. Cosgrave dated December 3, 2003, in which Ms. Ebert stated "the point at the end of the day is that she billed for 291 and all but 74 pages still need abstracting." (Tr. 128-9). The statement referred to the Bethany Hospital records. (Tr. 129-30). Ms. Ebert was aware at the time that there were inquiries regarding

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allegations Respondent had billed for work she had not performed, but she did know an investigation was being conducted. (Tr. 127).

Ms. Ebert testified that an abstract that is dictated is generally sent to an outside typist and not typed at the firm. (Tr. 131). Before the tape is sent out a log sheet is prepared by the individual who dictated the abstract which states what record is contained on that tape. (Tr. 131-2). There was a situation at O'Hagan where multiple tapes sent to an outside typist were lost by Federal Express and had to be replaced. (Tr. 135).

A log sheet was prepared that indicated the Respondent dictated an abstract of the Bethany Hospital records for the Goodwin case and sent it to an outside typist. (Resp. Ex. 13, Tr. 132-3). Ms. Ebert has seen the abstract of the Bethany Hospital records, but she does not recall when she saw it. (Tr. 133, 143). O'Hagan could have received medical records from Bethany Hospital on different occasions all related to the same patient. (Tr. 144).

Ms. Ebert identified an email dated December 15, 2003, as being sent from an outside typist to Ms. Cosgrave's secretary. (Resp. Ex. 7; Tr. 139). The email stated "Okay, here are the abstracts and dep resumes on Smith 2000278 by LXS". (Resp. Ex. 7; Tr. 139). LXS were the initials for the Respondent at the O'Hagan firm. (Tr. 140). The documents listed included the medical abstract for the Fertility Centers of Illinois. (Resp. Ex. 7; Tr. 139-40).

According to Ms. Ebert, Ms. Cosgrave told Ms. Ebert that she should not talk to other individuals about the inquiries regarding the Respondent's billing and that Ms. Cosgrave would handle the situation. (Tr. 136). Ms. Ebert did not speak with the attorneys who worked on the files Ms. Ebert reviewed to determine whether certain documents existed. (Tr. 136-7). When she searched for documents she did not search outside the specific case file to which the document related. (Tr. 137).

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Sharon Blaszak f/k/a Sharon O'Connor

Ms. Blaszack is a legal secretary in the medical malpractice group at O'Hagan and worked with the Respondent while she was at O'Hagan. (Tr. 157).

After the Respondent left O'Hagan, Ms. Cosgrave asked Ms. Blaszak to look for some documents that clients were billed for that Ms. Cosgrave could not find. (Tr. 159-60). Ms. Blaszak looked on the computer network and in the hard files for the documents. (Tr. 160). She did not locate any of the documents in the hard files. (Adm. Ex. 6; Tr. 164).

On the computer network she searched in the directory for each file number; and if she could not locate a document where it should have been, she did a search through Ms. Cosgrave's directories and a "Window search" to determine whether the document was saved in the wrong directory. (Tr. 160-1, 166-7). She spent approximately three to four hours searching for the documents and does not recall whether she located any of the documents in an incorrect directory. (Tr. 161). She reported the results of her search to Ms. Cosgrave. (Tr. 161).

After Ms. Blaszak reported the results of her search to Ms. Cosgrave, the Respondent called her to set up an appointment. (Tr. 161-2). The Respondent told Ms. Blaszak she was nervous about the meeting because she did not think she had completed all of the work. (Tr. 162). Ms. Blaszak reported the substance of her conversation with the Respondent to Ms. Cosgrave. (Tr. 162). Ms. Blaszak could not recall any other details of her telephone conversation with the Respondent. (Tr. 165-6).

Charles Linebaugh

Mr. Linebaugh worked for O'Hagan as the director of information systems for six years and left in June 2005. (Tr. 168-9). Mr. Linebaugh was responsible for running, operating and maintaining the phone and data network for the law office. (Tr. 169). Included in the data

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network were all of the personal computers, the servers and the internet structure. (Tr. 169). During 2002 and 2003 there was a nightly tape back up on all the e-mail and file servers, which included all documents created at O'Hagan, and over the weekend there was a full data backup. (Tr. 170).

Mr. Linebaugh was asked to search for documents relating to the Respondent's work in December 2003, September 2004 and February 2005. (Tr. 172-4). Ms. Cosgrave requested the first search in December 2003, which one of the engineers completed by restoring the files identified by Ms. Cosgrave during the time period the Respondent worked at O'Hagan. (Tr. 172-3). There were 75 tapes and each took about 30 to 40 minutes to search. (Tr. 178).

Ms. Cosgrave requested the second search in September 2004. (Tr. 173-4). Mr. Linebaugh restored all of the weekly tapes from the time period the Respondent worked at O'Hagan which contained every document created at O'Hagan during that time period. (Tr. 174-5). He conducted key word searches using the case numbers, case names and attorney names provided to him by Ms. Cosgrave and searched the titles and the body of text in the documents. (Tr. 174-5, 178, 182, 184). The Respondent's name was one of the attorney names included in the search. (Tr. 198).

The search identified each document that contained the case numbers, case names and attorney names Mr. Linebaugh used in the search. (Tr. 183). Mr. Linebaugh did not know which documents Ms. Cosgrave was searching for and gave Ms. Cosgrave a folder that had all of the documents the search had located. (Tr. 175-6). It took approximately 12 hours to complete the search. (Tr. 178-9).

In February 2005 Mr. Linebaugh conducted an expanded search requested by Vic Piekarski on the tapes to include additional attorneys and other names associated with the files.

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(Tr. 176-7). Mr. Piekarski directed Mr. Linebaugh as to what key words to use in the search. (Tr. 178). He had not used the name Lynette Crafton in the September 2004 search, but he did use it in the February 2005 search. (Tr. 193). The February 2005 search took approximately 12 hours to complete. (Tr. 179).

An index of the documents located by Mr. Linbaugh's September 2004 and February 2005 searches includes a list of the document names and descriptions of the documents. (Resp. Ex. 12; Tr. 185). The following documents are listed in the index: two deposition resumes of Angela Dallman, deposition abstract of Keith L. Paskiewicz, deposition abstract of Bill McGeean, deposition resume of Edmund Schaefer and abstract of medical records from Swedish Covenant. (Resp. Ex. 12 at 48, 50, 51, 55; Tr. 185-186).

The document name listed for the abstract of medical records from Swedish Covenant is "Abstract of med. rcs from Swedish Covenant." (Resp. Ex. 12 at 55). There is nothing to indicate what case the abstract was prepared for, who created it or when it was created. (Tr. 195-6). The document name listed for the deposition abstract of Keith L. Paskiewicz is "991839Abs01-01-02Paskiewicz.doc" which indicates the document was created on January 1, 2002. (Resp. Ex. 12 at 50; Tr. 196). The document names listed for the deposition resumes of Angela Dallman are "991839 CMC LJH DepAbs 02-17-04 Angela Dallman.doc" and "991839 CMC LXS dep resume Angela Dallman.doc". (Resp. Ex. 12 at 48). The document name listed for the deposition abstract of Bill McGeean is "991839 CMC LJH 02-01-04 Dep abst William". (Resp. Ex. 12 at 48).

According to Mr. Linebaugh if an outside typist transcribed a document and emailed it to a secretary at O'Hagan, when the document was saved on O'Hagan's computer system, the author of the document could appear to be either the outside typist or the secretary who received

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the email and saved the document depending on whether the file was opened from the email and saved or if it was saved and then opened. (Tr. 193).

Patrick Cage

Mr. Cage began working as a partner in the medical malpractice group at O'Hagan in 2002 and worked with the Respondent. (Tr. 218). He was impressed with the Respondent and the quality of her work. (Tr. 218-9).

Mr. Cage was involved with the investigation into the billing discrepancies regarding the Respondent. (Tr. 219). He and Ms. Cosgrave divided the Respondent's cases and reviewed her bills for a three-year period. (Tr. 219). Mr. Cage came into the office on a Saturday and checked the computer files and the hard files to determine whether documents existed to match the Respondent's billing entries. (Tr. 219-20).

He reviewed the physical files from the file room and the offices of attorneys who had been assigned some of the Respondent's cases. (Tr. 220). He also had some of the files in his office because he was assigned some of the Respondent's cases when she left. (Tr. 220). He did not look on any secretaries' desks. (Tr. 220). Mr. Cage spent about two to three hours reviewing the Respondent's files and that was the only time he spent reviewing them. (Tr. 221-2). If any of the Respondent's documents had been misfiled his search would not have uncovered them. (Tr. 223).

Mr. Cage testified that he found more than five time entries by the Respondent that were not supported by the documents in the hard file or on the computer. (Tr. 237). He gave Ms. Cosgrave a complete handwritten report of all the discrepancies he found and did not draw the conclusion that there was a problem because he knew the Respondent had a habit of working

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from her home computer. (Tr. 237-9). There were documents the Respondent had prepared for Mr. Cage on her home computer that she brought into the office for him. (Tr. 238-9).

Mr. Cage worked on the following cases: Kelly v. Advocate, Ramos - Kulp, Smothers v. Advocate, Holiday v. Hoard and Goodwin v. Advocate. (Adm. Ex. 10; Tr. 224-5). In the Kelly v. Advocate case he has seen a hard copy and a copy on the computer of the summary of meeting with Peggy Butler dated 6-14-02. (Adm. Ex. 10; Tr. 227). He knew the Respondent prepared the summary of the meeting with Peggy Butler because he had talked to the Respondent about it. (Tr. 239). He also specifically recalled seeing the abstract of the discovery deposition of Archie Collins and used it to prepare for the deposition of one of Archie Collins' sons. (Tr. 227-8). Mr. Cage did not know whether Respondent prepared the abstract, but he assumed she had because she was the only other individual working on the file. (Tr. 239-40). He was not asked to look for either of those documents during his investigation of the Respondent's billing entries. (Tr. 228).

Mr. Cage testified that he could not have managed the Ramos v. Kulp case without the abstract of the Rockford Hospital records, because it was a complex case and he needed them to take the depositions in the case. (Tr. 230-1, 236). He did not know when the abstracts were created or who prepared them. (Tr. 230-1, 240). He would not have issued the subpoenas for the depositions until he got the medical records abstract, but did not recall when he sent the subpoenas. (Tr. 240-1). While he worked on the case he never noticed that there were abstracts missing that should have been completed. (Tr. 231).

Mr. Cage testified that Lynette Crafton worked as Mr. Cage's secretary after the Respondent left O'Hagan. (Tr. 231, 234). She was assigned the task of reorganizing his files and it took her two or three weeks to complete the task. (Tr. 233). Ms. Crafton did not have a

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slower than normal response time in getting documents filed. (Tr. 241). Mr. Cage was aware that documents have been misfiled at the O'Hagan firm and that documents had been lost in the filing system. (Tr. 235). He stopped working at O'Hagan in December 2005. (Tr. 236).

Lynette Crafton

Ms. Crafton is a legal secretary and started working at O'Hagan in February 2003. (Tr. 249). She was assigned to the medical malpractice group and was Respondent's and Inhak Lee's secretary. (Tr. 249). Her duties and responsibilities included typing pleadings, motions, deposition summaries and abstracts. (Tr. 249). She also scheduled depositions and entered billable time for the Respondent and Mr. Lee. (Tr. 249-50).

Ms. Crafton testified that she was in a position to notice if there were any discrepancies in the Respondent's billing because she typed and handled a lot of the Respondent's work product. (Tr. 252-4). When the Respondent finished dictating an abstract she gave the tape to Ms. Crafton to send to an outside typist or to type herself. (Tr. 277). Ms. Crafton never noticed any discrepancies between Respondent's work product and her billing entries, but when she entered the Respondent's billing entries she did not search for the corresponding documents. (Tr. 254, 270).

Ms. Crafton was assigned to another department of the firm on a different floor about a week before the Respondent left O'Hagan. (Tr. 255). After the Respondent left the firm she called Ms. Crafton and told her that Ms. Cosgrave had called the Respondent and wanted to discuss some missing documents. (Tr. 255). Ms. Crafton testified that the Respondent was upset and discussed some of the documents that were alleged not to exist with Ms. Crafton. (Tr. 255). Ms. Crafton identified the documents she had physically seen and knew existed, but she can not specifically recall which documents she identified. (Tr. 255).

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Ms. Crafton met with Ms. Cosgrave in late December 2003 or early January 2004, regarding documents that were reported missing. (Tr. 256-7). Ms. Cosgrave did not indicate that the Respondent was being accused of not completing all the work she had billed for nor did she identify any specific documents that had been reported missing. (Tr. 257-8). Shortly after the meeting, Ms. Crafton called the Respondent to tell her about it. (Tr. 259).

Ms. Crafton was assigned to organize Mr. Cage's files a few months after the Respondent left O'Hagan and spent three months on that task. (Tr. 260-1). She found several misfiled documents and stacks of unfiled documents. (Tr. 261-2). During the time she spent organizing Mr. Cage's files, she saw at least five documents prepared by the Respondent that she knew were alleged to be missing based on her conversation with the Respondent; but she did not specifically recall which documents she saw. (Tr. 262-3, 273-4).

Ms. Crafton finished organizing Mr. Cage's files in late March or early April 2004. (Tr. 272-3). She prepared a table of contents for each file she organized which included a detailed list of the documents she had organized in each file. (Tr. 274-6). The table of contents included the alleged missing documents, but she did not specifically point out those documents to Ms. Cosgrave because she assumed Ms. Cosgrave would review the table of contents and see that the documents were listed. (Tr. 275-6).

Ms. Crafton testified that while she was the Respondent's secretary she saw the following documents that Ms. Cosgrave listed as missing in her December 22, 2003 email to Mr. Amundsen: abstract of records of Bruce Bernheim; abstract of Dr. Lifchez; abstract of Philomena McAndrews; abstract of La Fave; summary of meeting with Peggy Butler; deposition summary of Archie Collins; abstract of Mae Kelly deposition; abstract of Bethany records; abstract of Manor Care records; abstract of deposition of Monique Hayes; and summary of Angela Dallman.

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(Tr. 264-7). She also saw the deposition summary of Melanie Smith. (Tr. 264-6). She stated that Archie Collins was one person and that it was not "Archie & Collins" as stated on Ms. Cosgrave's email to Mr. Amundsen. (Tr. 264-6). On cross examination, Ms. Crafton testified that she saw some of the documents while she organized Mr. Cage's files which did not occur until January or February 2004 after the Respondent left. (Tr. 271-2).

Ms. Crafton left O'Hagan in July 2004 and worked for the firm where the Respondent was employed at the time, but she did not work for the Respondent. (Tr. 269).

The Respondent

The Respondent testified that she began working at the O'Hagan firm in the medical malpractice group in January 2000 as a nurse paralegal. (Tr. 309-10). She became an associate at the firm after she became licensed to practice law in Illinois in May 2000. (Tr. 310).

Her responsibilities included abstracting medical records and depositions. (Tr. 307). The Respondent prepared abstracts by dictating the relevant and important information on each page of the medical record onto a tape that was later transcribed by a secretary. (Tr. 299). Once she completed the dictation of an abstract she identified the tape with a log sheet that indicated the pages of the medical record that were abstracted and the length of the tape. (Tr. 300). The Respondent secured the log sheet to the tape with a rubber band and gave it to her secretary who either transcribed the tape or sent it to an outside typist to be transcribed. (Tr. 302).

The Respondent prepared a log sheet after dictating an abstract of Bethany Hospital records pages 1 through 350 for file number 2003236, which was the Goodwin v. Advocate case (Resp. Ex. 13; Tr. 300-2). That abstract was the only abstract of Bethany Hospital records she prepared for the Goodwin case. (Tr. 302).

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In some cases the same set of records were abstracted multiple times because there were multiple subpoenas for the same records or an updated version of the records was subpoenaed after a period of time. (Tr. 308). In order to be certain she was not missing any information the Respondent completed a full abstract of each set of records received. (Tr. 308-9). The repeat abstract was incorporated into the prior abstract which resulted in one updated document instead of several different documents. (Tr. 309). Repeat abstracts were not always completed by the same person. (Tr. 309).

The Respondent used the abstracts she had completed to prepare abstract summaries for the clients. (Tr. 307). An abstract summary of a medical record is a streamlined version of an abstract and is used to inform the client of the issues and information identified in the medical records. (Tr. 305-7). Typically, the client received the abstract summary, but not the abstract. (Tr. 306).

The Respondent testified that she worked at O'Hagan for approximately four or five years. (Tr. 312). She had a negative attitude towards continuing her professional career at O'Hagan the last several months she worked there because she was dissatisfied with the management of the firm and had decided to leave. (Tr. 312-4, 339). The Respondent was required to bill 170 hours a month in 2003, but the last six months she was at O'Hagan she billed about 150 hours per month. (Tr. 340). Her difficulty meeting the billing requirements was a result of her decision to leave the firm. (Tr. 340). The Respondent accepted a position with Rooks, Pitts in October 2003 and tendered her resignation to O'Hagan. (Tr. 313-4). She began working at Rooks, Pitts on December 1, 2003. (Tr. 314).

The Respondent worked at O'Hagan for about a month after she tendered her resignation and transitioned her files to other attorneys. (Tr. 314-5). She also went to Los Angeles, CA in

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mid November to take the depositions of Dr. McAndrews and a physician from Cedar Sinai Medical Center. (Tr. 315). She took the medical records for those physicians and any other physician records and depositions that she thought were relevant with her to review on the plane. (Tr. 315). She also had the abstracts of those medical records. (Tr. 315).

Before the Respondent left O'Hagan, she said she gave Ms. Ebert additional medical records that she had received in the Smith v. LGH case and asked her to reconcile them with prior abstracts the Respondent and another colleague, Lianna Hernandez, had completed and to update the abstracts accordingly. (Tr. 319). Smith was a large case and there were multiple sets of records for the same physicians. (Tr. 319).

The Respondent became aware there was an investigation regarding allegations that she had billed for work she had not completed after she left O'Hagan when Ms. Cosgrave called her and told her to set up an appointment to meet with her. (Tr. 320). She called Ms. Blazak to set up the appointment and Ms. Blazak told her she did not know what Mr. Cosgrave wanted to speak to her about. (Tr. 321). The Respondent testified that she did not inform Ms. Blazak that she had billed for work she had not completed. (Tr. 321-2).

The Respondent met with Ms. Cosgrave on December 12, 2003, in Glen Amundsen's office at O'Hagan. (Tr. 322-3). She saw a list of the missing documents and told Ms. Cosgrave she had completed all of the work and had no explanation as to why it was not in the files. (Tr. 326-7, 333). She initially stated that a secretary may have destroyed or deleted the work. (Tr. 338). The secretary she identified was not Ms. Crafton. (Tr. 338).

The Respondent called Ms. Crafton after her meeting with Ms. Cosgrave because Ms. Crafton was the Respondent's secretary during the time the missing documents were created. (Tr. 333). She knew Ms. Crafton would have knowledge of preparing the documents because

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she liked to read them and learn about the cases. (Tr. 333). Ms. Crafton told the Respondent that when she was organizing Mr. Cage's files she found a lot of documents that were allegedly missing. (Tr. 342). Ms. Crafton is a friend of the Respondent's and they spend time with each other socially. (Tr. 343).

The Respondent testified she prepared an abstract and summary for six volumes of medical records from Swedish Covenant or Swedish American Hospital for the Cannova case. (Tr. 304, 328-9). The abstract took more than one sitting to complete because there was a large volume of records. (Tr. 304). From November or December 2002 until March or April 2003, the Respondent dictated an abstract for one volume of records at a time and gave the tapes to her secretary to be transcribed. (Tr. 304, 329). The abstracts were merged into one comprehensive abstract once they were transcribed. (Tr. 305)

After the abstract of all six volumes was completed, Respondent testified she prepared a summary to the client regarding the Swedish American Hospital records. (Resp. Ex. 4; Tr. 330-1). She obtained the information in the summary from the abstract she prepared. (Tr. 331). She could not have prepared the summary without first abstracting the records because of the volume of the records and the complexity of the issues involved. (Tr. 332).

The Respondent testified she absolutely did not bill for work that she did not complete and prepared all of the documents identified as missing in Ms. Cosgrave's December 22, 2003 email to Mr. Amundsen except for the work identified in the Turner v. Salem case. (Adm. Ex. 10; Tr. 335, 343-4). That document was credited to her, but it was a document that Mr. Lee prepared. (Tr. 343-4). The Respondent also stated that Archie Collins was one person and that "deps of Archie & Collins" was a typographical error in Ms. Cosgrave's email. (Adm. Ex. 10; Tr. 343).

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The Respondent said she worked at Rooks Pitts for a year and a half. (Tr. 333). She left the firm because she was told there was not a long term fit for her there. (Tr. 333). The Respondent worked full time as a nurse for a few months until she applied for an attorney position at the CTA. (Tr. 334).

The Respondent currently works 24 to 36 hours a week as a registered nurse for several different nursing agencies and works 40 to 50 hours a week as an attorney in the torts division of the Chicago Transit Authority. (Tr. 288). The investigation and ARDC allegations have negatively impacted her career, her financial situation and her marriage because she has to work two jobs to pay for her legal bills. (Tr. 335).

Evidence Offered in Mitigation

Nancy Brent

Ms. Brent and the Respondent are members of the Chicago chapter of the American Association of Nurse Attorneys. (Tr. 154). Ms. Brent is a member of the board of directors and the Respondent is the president of the organization. (Tr. 154). The Respondent has an excellent reputation for truthfulness and her truthfulness has never been questioned by anyone in the association. (Tr. 154, 156). Respondent told the board members about the allegations against her when the Complaint was filed. (Tr. 155). Ms. Brent has read the Complaint. (Tr. 155).

Inhak Lee

Mr. Lee is an attorney at the O'Hagan firm and became friends with the Respondent when they both started at the firm in January 2000. (Tr. 203). Mr. Lee said the Respondent's written work product was good; and when he observed the Respondent in court he was impressed with her abilities. (Tr. 204). Mr. Lee has never heard anything negative about the Respondent's reputation for truthfulness from clients or attorneys. (Tr. 205). Mr. Lee was aware

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of the allegations against the Respondent but had not read the Complaint. (Tr. 205-6). His knowledge of the allegations did not change his opinion about the Respondent's capacity as an attorney or her reputation in the legal community. (Tr. 205-6).

Monalisa Dugue

Ms. Dugue was a paralegal at O'Hagan during the time period the Respondent worked there. (Tr. 209-10). She and the Respondent became friends. (Tr. 211). She testified that the Respondent had a good reputation at O'Hagan and she is very honest and dependable. (Tr. 211-2). Ms. Dugue reviewed the Complaint and it did not change her opinion of the Respondent's truthfulness. (Tr. 212).

Larry Rogers, Jr.

Mr. Rogers is an attorney and has known Respondent for approximately eight years. (Tr. 244). He said he has been opposing counsel to the Respondent on several matters. (Tr. 244-5). He and the Respondent belong to the Cook County Bar Association. (Tr. 244-5). He has observed her in court and talked to her about continuing legal education activities. (Tr. 244). He testified that he has never heard anything negative about the Respondent's reputation, and she is well respected by her colleagues. (Tr. 245-6). Mr. Rogers was vaguely aware of the allegations against the Respondent because he reviewed the Complaint. (Tr. 246-7).

The Respondent

The Respondent testified that she received a brachial plexus injury to her right arm when she was born and as a result her right arm is partially paralyzed. (Tr. 286). She was granted a full academic scholarship to complete her undergraduate degree and graduated magna cum laude from Thurgood Marshall School of Law in May 1999. (Tr. 289-91). While in law school

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Respondent organized and competed in moot court competitions and won several awards. (Tr. 291-2).

The Respondent is the president of the Chicago Area Nurse Attorney Association and a member of the Cook County Bar Association and the National Bar Association. (Tr. 293). Respondent was involved in a collection of medical supplies to assist in the rebuilding of Afghanistan that was sponsored by the Nurse Attorney Association. (Tr. 294). Respondent is a member of Zeta Phi Beta which is a service organization and she has helped with the organization's global project to collect clothes for women and children to donate to shelters. (Tr. 295-6). Respondent is also a member of Easter Star which is a service organization and has assisted in the health care drives that the organization sponsors. (Tr. 297).

FINDINGS OF FACT AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW

In attorney disciplinary proceedings, the Administrator must establish charges of lawyer misconduct by clear and convincing evidence. Supreme Court Rule 753(c)(6); In re Ingersoll, 186 Ill.2d 163, 168, 710 N.E.2d 390, 393 (1999). It is well settled that "clear and convincing evidence is a standard of proof, which, while less than the criminal standard of proof beyond a reasonable doubt, is greater than the civil standard of preponderance of the evidence." Cleary and Graham, Handbook of Illinois Evidence, sec. 301.6 (6th ed. 1994). This standard of proof is one in which the risk of error is not equally allocated; rather, this standard requires a high level of proof, both qualitatively and quantitatively, from the Administrator. Santosky v. Kramer, 455 U.S. 745, 764-66, 102 S. Ct. 1388 (1982); In re Tepper, 96 CH 543, M.R. 14596 (1998) (Review Bd. Dec. at 12). Suspicious circumstances are insufficient to warrant discipline. In re Lane, 127 Ill. 2d 90, 111, 535 N.E.2d 866 (1989). It is the responsibility of the Hearing Panel to determine the credibility of the witnesses, weigh the conflicting testimony, draw reasonable inferences, and

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make factual findings based upon all the evidence. In re Timpone, 157 Ill.2d 178, 196, 623 N.E.2d 300, 308 (1993).

We concluded the Administrator proved by clear and convincing evidence that the Respondent engaged in the misconduct alleged in the Complaint. Specifically, we found the Respondent: (1) charged and collected an unreasonable fee in violation of Rule 1.5(a) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct ("the Rules") by submitting billing entries for work that she did not perform; (2) engaged in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation, in violation of Rule 8.4(a)(4) of the Rules; and (3) engaged in conduct which tends to defeat the administration of justice, or to bring the courts or the legal profession into disrepute, in violation of Supreme Court Rule 771.

The Administrator provided clear and convincing evidence the Respondent did not produce certain documents identified in the email Ms. Cosgrave sent on December 22, 2003, but that the Respondent submitted billing charges as delineated in the invoices attached to the refund summaries provided to the clients for the work she did not perform. In the Smith v. LGH case we find the Respondent did not complete the abstracts of records from Dr. Bernheim, Dr. Lifchez, Dr. Chams, Dr. Rosenblum, Dr. La Fave and the abstract for Melanie Smith's deposition Part I. In the Kelly v. Advocate case we find the Respondent did not complete the abstract of the Mae Kelly deposition. In the Ramos - Kulp case we find the Respondent did not complete the abstracts of records from the Illinois Department of Public Health and Sherman Hospital. In the Smothers v. Advocate case we find the Respondent did not complete the abstract of records from Palos Home Care Nursing. In the Holliday v. Hoard case we find the Respondent did not complete the abstract of records from Bethany Hospital, the abstract of records from Manor Care and the abstract of the deposition of Monique Hayes. In the Dallman

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v. Can Do It case we find the Respondent did not complete the abstract of the deposition of Bill Mc Gean, the abstract of the deposition of Ed Schaeffer and the abstract of the deposition of Angela Dallmann.

Ms. Cosgrave's email to Mr. Amundsen dated December 22, 2003, listed several documents the Respondent billed for preparing that Ms. Cosgrave and her colleagues were unable to locate through a search of the computer system and hard files. Ms. Cosgrave was a credible witness and testified that despite the fact that two of the missing documents were subsequently located it was extremely unlikely that the remaining missing documents existed but could not be located. She further stated that she had never experienced such a significant lack of documentation based on a review of an associate's billing entries. Ms. Gitchell, Mr. Cage and Ms. Blazak also testified that after searching both the computer system and the hard files at O'Hagan they were unable to locate several documents the Respondent had billed for completing.

Ms. Ebert testified the Respondent assigned her a large volume of cases with medical records that needed to be abstracted before the Respondent left O'Hagan. The Respondent also stated that she assigned medical records that needed to be abstracted from the Smith v. LGH case to Ms. Ebert before she left O'Hagan.

Ms. Cosgrave's email stated that the abstracts of records from Dr. Bernheim, Dr. Lifchez, Dr. Chams, Dr. Rosenblum, Bethany Hospital and Manor Care were assigned to Ms. Ebert on November 26, 2003, around the time the Respondent left O'Hagan. This supports Ms. Ebert's testimony that these documents were not completed by the Respondent, but were assigned by the Respondent to Ms. Ebert.

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Ms. Cosgrave's email also stated that the deposition summary of Monique Hayes was found. We did not find this indicated the Respondent prepared the abstract of the deposition of Monique Hayes despite the Respondent's testimony that she used the abstracts she completed to create the summaries.

The index of documents located by Mr. Linbaugh's September 2004 and February 2005 searches for documents created during the time period the Respondent worked at O'Hagan included two deposition resumes of Angela Dallman, one of which appeared to be a deposition abstract because "DepAbs" was included in the name the document was saved under. The index also included the deposition abstract of Bill McGean. However, the name both of the documents were saved under "991839 CMC LJH DepAbs 02-17-04 Angela Dallman.doc" and "991839 CMC LJH 02-01-04 Dep abst William", respectively, indicated that the documents were created in February 2004, a few months after the Respondent left O'Hagan, and did not include the Respondent's initials. Therefore, we cannot conclude the Respondent created these documents.

The index also included the deposition resume of Ed Schaeffer. We did not find the existence of this document established the Respondent prepared the abstract of the deposition of Ed Schaeffer.

Ms. Crafton also testified that she saw the abstract of the records from Dr. Bernheim, the abstract of the records from Dr. Lifchez, the abstract of the records from Dr. La Fave, the deposition summary of Melanie Smith, the abstract of the deposition of Mae Kelly, the deposition summary of Archie Collins, the abstract of the records from Bethany Hospital, the abstract of the records from Manor Care and the abstract of the deposition of Monique Hayes. Ms. Crafton's testimony was not sufficient to establish the Respondent prepared these documents because she did not testify about when she saw the documents. Ms. Crafton testified that she

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saw some of the documents after the Respondent left the firm while she was organizing Mr. Cage's files. She was also not working on the same floor as the Respondent during the Respondent's last week at O'Hagan. Ms. Crafton could have seen the documents because they were prepared by Ms. Ebert or another employee at O'Hagan after the Respondent left the firm.

We further find that the Administrator failed to show the Respondent did not complete some of the work identified in Ms. Cosgrave's email.

In the Smith v. LGH case there was insufficient evidence to establish that the Respondent did not complete the abstract of the records from Fertility Centers of Illinois and the abstract of records from Philomena Mc Andrews. The email sent by an outside typist to Ms. Cosgrave's secretary on December 15, 2003, stated that the medical abstract of the Fertility Centers of Illinois had been done by the Respondent for the Smith v. LGH case. The email identified the Smith v. LGH case by name and case number.

Additionally, the Respondent testified that she often dictated the abstracts she prepared and gave them to her secretary to be transcribed. Ms. Crafton testified that she often sent the tapes to an outside typist. Mr. Linebaugh testified that if a document was emailed to the firm by an outside typist the employee who saved the document to O'Hagan's computer system might appear to be the author of the document.

The finding in Ms. Cosgrave's email regarding the abstract of records from Fertility Centers of Illinois stated that it was prepared by "LJH" on September 4, 2003. The finding in Ms. Cosgrave's email regarding the abstract of the records from Philomena McAndrews stated "System also shows Abst by LJH of ‘Philomena records'." The Respondent could have dictated these documents, had the tapes sent to an outside typist and when the transcribed documents

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were emailed to the firm they could have been saved onto the computer system by the employee at O'Hagan with the initials LJH.

In the Kelly v. Advocate case there was insufficient evidence to show that the Respondent did not prepare the summary of the meeting with Butler and the abstract of the deposition of Archie Collins. Ms. Cosgrave and Mr. Cage each stated that the summary of the meeting with Butler existed and Mr. Cage testified he knew the Respondent prepared the document because he had spoken to her about it. Mr. Cage also testified that he saw the abstract of the discovery deposition of Archie Collins and used it to prepare for the deposition of one of Archie Collins' sons. He believed the Respondent had prepared the abstract because she was the only other individual working on the file. "Deps of Archie & Collins" as stated in Ms. Cosgrave's email was an error because as Mr. Cage, Ms. Crafton and the Respondent testified, Archie Collins was one person.

There was insufficient evidence to establish that the Respondent billed for the preparation of the abstract of the deposition of Archie Collins or the deposition summary of Archie Collins in the Kelly v. Advocate case. The invoices attached to the refund provided to Advocate did not include a billing charge by the Respondent for the preparation of the deposition abstract or summary, and Advocate was not refunded for the preparation of either document.

In the Ramos - Kulp case there was insufficient evidence that the Respondent did not complete the abstract of the records from Rockford Memorial Hospital. Mr. Cage testified that that abstract of the Rockford Memorial Hospital records was prepared because he could not have conducted the depositions in the case without it. Even though Mr. Cage did not know who created the abstract or when it was created, he did not notice any abstracts that were missing that should have been completed while he worked on the case.

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In the Howard case there was insufficient evidence to prove the Respondent did not prepare the deposition summary of Dr. Siddiqui. Ms. Cosgrave and Ms. Gitchell both testified that the deposition summary of Dr. Siddiqui was located. Ms. Gitchell further stated that the document was in her files and that she had made a notation that Mr. Siddiqui's deposition summary existed on a list of missing documents Ms. Cosgrave had prepared in early December 2003.

In the Goodwin v. Advocate case there was insufficient evidence to prove that the Respondent did not complete the abstract of records from Bethany Hospital. A log sheet the Respondent prepared indicated that she had dictated an abstract of the Bethany Hospital records for the Goodwin v. Advocate case and sent it to an outside typist. The finding in Ms. Cosgrave's email regarding the abstract stated that a tape was delivered with the transcripts but that the tape had not been transcribed. This suggests the Respondent had prepared the abstract by dictating it and had the tape sent to an outside typist.

In the Dallmann v. Can Do It case there was insufficient evidence to prove the Respondent did not prepare the abstracts of the depositions of G. Hernandez, Joan McGean and Keith Paskiewicz and the summary of the deposition of Angela Dallmann. Ms. Cosgrave's email stated that the abstracts of the depositions of G. Hernandez and Joan Mc Gean had been found. The index of documents located by Mr. Linbaugh's September 2004 and February 2005 searches for documents created during the time period the Respondent worked at O'Hagan included the deposition resume of Angela Dallman and the deposition abstract of Keith L. Paskiewicz.

The deposition of Kieth Paskiewicz was saved under the document name "991839Abs01-01-02Paskiewicz.doc" which indicated the document was created on January 1, 2002. The Respondent's two billing charges for the document were on September 27, 2002 and October 2,

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2002, however we consider it plausible that "01" for January was a typographical error and was meant to be "10" for October.

In the Turner v. Salem case the Respondent testified and Ms. Cosgrave's email indicated that the documents at issue were prepared by Mr. Lee and incorrectly credited to the Respondent.

In the Cannova case there was insufficient evidence presented to establish the Respondent did not complete the abstract of medical records from Swedish American Hospital. Ms. Gitchell's testified that she could not locate a hard copy of the abstract in the file, but that she did review the summary of the abstract the Respondent prepared. The Respondent testified that she prepared an abstract and a summary for six volumes of medical records from Swedish Covenant or Swedish American Hospital for the Cannova case. The detailed summary of the medical records the Respondent prepared for the client was presented as an exhibit. After reviewing the summary we conclude the Respondent could not have prepared the summary without first abstracting the medical records.

The Respondent billed O'Hagan's clients for 88 hours of work that she did not complete which resulted in a total of $12,439 in charges to clients based on false information. By entering the false billing charges the Respondent directly caused O'Hagan to charge and collect an unreasonable fee from several of its clients and the Respondent's actions violated Rule 1.5(a).

We presume the Respondent's primary motivation in engaging in false billing was an attempt to meet the number of hours she was required to bill during a time period when she was having difficulty achieving the required number of hours. Ms. Cosgrave testified that from January 2003 until the time the Respondent left O'Hagan there was a marked drop off in the Respondent's productivity. The Respondent also admitted she had trouble achieving her hours the last six months she was at O'Hagan. The majority of the Respondent's false billing charges

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occurred in 2003 and the remaining 28.7 hours were charged in the Fall of 2002, approximately one year before she left O'Hagan. We conclude the Respondent engaged in fraudulent and dishonest conduct to inflate the number of hours she billed over a period of one year in violation of Rule 8.4(a)(4).

The Respondent's misconduct also brought the legal profession into disrepute in violation of Supreme Court Rule 771. An attorney who bills clients for work she did not do negatively affects the profession's reputation and image. Ms. Cosgrave testified that the Respondent's actions eroded the trust between O'Hagan's clients and the firm.

RECOMMENDATION

The purpose of this disciplinary system is to protect the public, maintain the integrity of the legal system, and safeguard the administration of justice. In re Gorecki, 208 Ill.2d 350, 360, 802 N.E.2d 1194, 1199 (2003); see also In re Howard, 188 Ill.2d 423, 434, 721 N.E.2d 1126, 1132 (1999). The goal is not to punish the attorney. In re Smith, 168 Ill.2d 269, 295, 659 N.E.2d 896, 909 (1995). In determining the proper sanction, we consider the misconduct along with any aggravating and mitigating factors. In re Witt, 145 Ill.2d 380, 398, 583 N.E.2d 526, 536 (1991).

The Respondent's misconduct is mitigated by the fact that she has not been previously disciplined. See In re Demuth, 126 Ill. 2d 1, 14, 533 N.E.2d 867 (1988). The Respondent also presented four character witnesses who testified to the Respondent's reputation for honesty and integrity in the legal community, and she presented testimony about her involvement in several professional and charitable activities. See In re Lenz, 108 Ill.2d 445, 453-4, 484 N.E.2d 1093, 1097 (1985) (lack of prior discipline, community service and character testimony are mitigating factors). The Respondent is young and inexperienced, which is an additional mitigating factor.

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See In re Pietrazak, 92 CH 445, M.R. 8632 (January 25, 1994) (attorney's criminal and fraudulent actions were not the result of a basic flaw in his moral character but of his youth, inexperience and lack of knowledge).

In aggravation, the Respondent's misconduct resulted in harm to the clients who were falsely charged and to her law firm's reputation with those clients. See In re Samuels, 126 Ill.2d 509, 529-30, 535 N.E.2d 808 (1989). The clients were reimbursed for the false charges, but the O'Hagan firm's reputation with its clients was injured.

The Administrator requested the Respondent be suspended for one year. In support of her request the Administrator cited: In re Alpert, 01 CH 13, M.R. 17749 (November 28, 2001); In re Schiller, 98 CH 132, M.R. 158 (May 25, 1999); In re Garfinkle, 97 CH 104, M.R. 15297 (November 24, 1998); In re Nadell, 96 CH 348, M.R. 12524 (May 28, 1996); In re Solomon, 92 CH 159, M.R. 9073 (May 21, 1993); In re Crain, 82 CH 270, M.R. 8397 (June 25, 1992).

The Respondent recommended a finding of no misconduct because the Administrator did not meet her burden of proof and in the alternative recommended the Respondent be reprimanded or censured. In support of her request the Respondent cited: In re Volpe, 97 CH 33, M.R. 15040 (November 24, 1998); In re Price, 95 CH 503, M.R. 9073 (September 24, 1996); In re Eisenberg, 83 CH 39, M.R. 3074 (January 25, 1984); In re Doss, 94 CH 220 (April 20, 1966).

We did not find all of the cases cited by the Respondent in support of a reprimand or censure applicable here. In Doss, 94 CH 220, the attorney was reprimanded for assisting his mother in transferring property to defeat the claims of her creditors, and he did not engage in any dishonest or fraudulent conduct. In Volpe and Eisenberg the attorneys were censured for engaging in a criminal act that involved moral turpitude, and their misconduct did not negatively impact their clients or their employer. See Volpe, 97 CH 33, (attorney censured for submitting

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false application for health care benefits); Eisenberg, 83 CH 39, (attorney censured for submitting a false insurance policy and binder to the Internal Revenue Service).

The Respondent also cited Price, 95 CH 503, in which the attorney received a 60 day suspension for submitting a false expense for a reporting service to the accounting department of his firm, using the money he received for personal purposes, and fabricating a letter to mislead the firm and reporting service that the request for reimbursement was legitimate. Similarly to the Respondent, the attorney engaged in dishonest conduct, but had no history of prior discipline, had a history of community service and had significant character testimony.

The Administrator cited Garfinkle, 97 CH 104, which was analogous to this case because the attorney submitted false time records over a period of six months for one client to create the impression that he was productive during a time period when he was unproductive due to personal matters. His actions caused his law firm to send fraudulent bills to the client and he was suspended for six months. However, the attorney's misconduct in Garfinkle was more extensive than the Respondent's because he had primary responsibility for editing the billing memorandum for the client and abused his authority by not only altering his own billable hours, but the billable hours of other attorneys and paralegals assigned to the client's matters. He also billed a total of 56.75 hours on 48 separate dates for time he expended on the client's behalf for a litigation matter.

The remaining cases cited by the Administrator in support of a one year suspension are distinguishable from this case because the attorneys acted fraudulently for personal financial gain and misappropriated funds from their clients and employers, whereas the Respondent did not directly benefit financially from her misconduct.

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The Respondent's misconduct was not as egregious as the attorneys in the cases cited by the Administrator because although she acted fraudulently to meet the billing requirements at O'Hagan, she did not act out of greed or direct financial self interest. The Respondent used dishonest means to attempt to meet the expectations of her employer. The Respondent's youth and inexperience contributed to her exercise of poor judgment in this matter. See In re Rena, 99 SH 2, M.R. 16201 (November 22, 1999) (attorney's youth and inexperience significantly mitigated his attempt to collect an unreasonable fee of approximately $1.3 million). Under the unique circumstances of this case, we conclude the imposition of a thirty (30) day suspension will take into consideration the mitigating factors present, the harm caused to the clients who were falsely billed and the damage caused to the O'Hagan firm's reputation with its clients, while demonstrating to the public and to the profession that this type of conduct will not be tolerated.

Accordingly, we recommend Respondent be suspended from the practice of law for thirty (30) days.

Date Entered: February 23, 2007

David F. Rolewick, Chair, with William M. Dickson and William Gabbard concurring