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

In the Matter of:

COREY EDWARD MEYER,

Attorney-Respondent, 

No. 6189640.

 

Commission No.  08 CH 14

FILED -  February 28, 2008

COMPLAINT

 Jerome Larkin, Administrator of the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission, by his attorney, Allison L. Wood, pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 753(b), complains of Respondent Corey Edward Meyer, who was licensed to practice law in Illinois on May 9, 1985, and alleges that Respondent has engaged in the following conduct which tends to defeat the administration of justice or to bring the courts or the legal profession into disrepute:

ALLEGATIONS COMMON TO ALL COUNTS

1. On December 24, 2003, Charles McEwen ("Charles") of Grand Rapids, Michigan, had emergency back surgery in Michigan. After the surgery, Charles was a paraplegic unable to care for his own personal needs. His wife, Claudia Colpoys-McEwen ("Claudia") retired from her job to take care of Charles, who needed full-time care.

2. Sometime in July 2005, Claudia contacted Respondent, and asked Respondent to represent Charles and Claudia in an action against his medical providers, all of whom worked and resided in Michigan. Respondent asked Claudia to send him Charles' medical records for his review.

3. On December 22, 2005, after reviewing Charles' medical records, Respondent agreed to represent Charles and Claudia relative to a medical malpractice action against Charles' medical providers. Respondent advised Charles and Claudia that although he was not licensed to practice law in Michigan, he could take certain steps that would allow him to represent them in their case.

4. In December 2005, when Respondent agreed to represent Charles and Claudia in Michigan, Michigan Supreme Court Rule 15 provided, in part, that any person who is licensed to practice law in another state may be permitted to appear before a Michigan tribunal when associated with and on the motion of an active member of the Michigan State Bar who appears of record in the case.

5. In December 2005, when Respondent agreed to represent Charles and Claudia in Michigan, Respondent was aware of Michigan Supreme Court Rule 15, and he knew that in order to represent them, he would have to associate with a Michigan attorney and file a motion requesting permission to represent them with a Michigan court.

6. When Charles had his surgery in December 2003, the Michigan statute of limitations for medical malpractice actions was two years. MCL 600.5905(4). Since the surgery Charles complained of occurred on December 24, 2003, the statute of limitations on Charles' claim would expire on December 24, 2005.

7. In December 2005, when Respondent agreed to represent Charles and Claudia in Michigan, Respondent was aware of the Michigan statue of limitations for medical malpractice actions, and he knew that the statute of limitations on Charles' claim was to expire on December 24, 2005.

8. When Charles had his surgery in December 2003, Michigan court rules required a party to provide potential defendants with a pre-suit notice, or notice of intent to file claim. The service of the notice of intent to file claim on the potential defendants extends the statute of limitations for 182 days. MCL 600.5856d.

9. In December 2005, when Respondent agreed to represent Charles and Claudia in Michigan, Respondent was aware of the Michigan court rules that required a party to send potential defendants a pre-suit notice, and he knew that if he provided notice to Charles' medical providers of his intention to bring suit against them, the statute of limitations on Charles' claim would be extended from December 24, 2005 to June 24, 2006. In December 2005, Respondent was also able to determine that since June 24, 2006 was a Saturday, the statute of limitations would be further extended to June 26, 2006.

10. On December 22, 2005, Respondent sent a notice of intent to file claim to the following medical providers: St Mary's Health Care; Dr. Shalien Patel; Dr. Gregory Waters; Dr. David Herz; and Dr. Joseph T. Brown, all of whom were located in Michigan.

11. On June 21, 2006, Charles and Claudia traveled from Michigan to Illinois to meet with Respondent in his office. During that visit, they executed a retainer agreement such that Respondent would receive 33 1/3 of whatever amount he recovered on behalf of Charles and Claudia. Respondent advised Charles and Claudia that he would file a complaint on their behalf, against the various Michigan healthcare providers.

COUNT I
(Unauthorized practice of law)

12. On June 26, 2006, Respondent prepared and caused to be filed a complaint that was docketed as, Charles McEwen and Claudia Colpoys-McEwen v. St. Mary's Health Care; Dr. Shaleen Patel; Dr. Gregory Waters; Dr David Herz; and Dr. Joseph T. Brown, case number 06 06268 in the Circuit Court of Kent Country in Michigan (herein " the lawsuit"). The lawsuit was assigned to the Honorable Donald A. Johnston.

13. At no time did Respondent associate himself with a member of the Michigan State Bar or seek permission from a Michigan tribunal to represent Charles and Claudia in the lawsuit.

14. By reason of the conduct described above, Respondent has engaged in the following misconduct:

  1. practicing law in a jurisdiction where doing so violates the regulation of the legal profession in that jurisdiction in violation of Rule 5.5. of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct;

  2. conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation, in violation of Rule 8.4(a)(4) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct;

  3. conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice in violation of 8.4(a)(5) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct; and

  4. 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 770.

COUNT II
(Fraud and ordering a nonlawyer assistant to perform acts
in violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct)

15. The Administrator realleges the allegations in paragraph 12 above.

16. In preparing the complaint that was filed in the lawsuit on behalf of Charles and Claudia, Respondent directed his secretary, Irene Lee ("Lee") to list Charles and Claudia as pro se plaintiffs who resided in Indiana. Respondent also directed Lee to sign the notice of filing and to sign the complaint as if Charles and Claudia had signed the notice of filing and the complaint.

17. As directed by Respondent, Lee listed Charles and Claudia as pro se plaintiffs who lived at her Indiana home address and who had her Indiana telephone number, signed the names of Charles and Claudia on the notice of filing and signed their names on the complaint, and filed the complaint in the Circuit Court of Kent County in Michigan.

18. Respondent knew that the complaint filed in the lawsuit contained misrepresentations in that Charles and Claudia were not pro se plaintiffs, they did not live in Indiana, and they had not signed the notice of filing nor had they signed the complaint. Respondent directed Lee to make these misrepresentations, knowing that they were false.

19. Respondent did not seek or obtain authorization from either Charles or Claudia to list them as pro se plaintiffs, to sign their names to the complaint, or to identify them as Indiana residents.

20. Respondent never advised either Charles or Claudia that the complaint he filed on their behalf listed them as pro se plaintiffs who lived in Indiana.

21. By reason of the conduct described above, Respondent has engaged in the following misconduct:

  1. conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation, in violation of Rule 8.4(a)(4) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct;

  2. ordering a nonlawyer assistant to perform acts that are in violation of Rule 3.1 of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct;

  3. conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice in violation of 8.4(a)(5) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct; and

  4. 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 770.

COUNT III
(Filing frivolous claim and neglect)

22. The Administrator realleges the allegations in paragraph 12 above.

23. When Charles had his surgery in December 2003, Michigan rules required that complaints for medical malpractice be accompanied by an affidavit of merit signed by a health care professional who could reasonably be qualified to serve as an expert witness and attest to violations of the standard of care allegedly committed by the defendants. MCL 600.2912d.

24. In 2006, when he filed the complaint, Respondent knew that Michigan rules required him to attach an affidavit of merit to the complaint and he knew that if he failed to do so, the case would be subject to dismissal.

25. In early 2006, before he filed the complaint on behalf of Charles and Claudia, Respondent discussed the case with one medical provider, Dr. Bruce Livingston, and asked Dr. Livingston if he would provide Respondent with an affidavit that he could attach to the complaint. Respondent was advised by Dr. Livingston that he, Dr. Livingston, did not believe the case had merit and that he would not provide him with an affidavit to support his complaint in the lawsuit.

26. At no time prior to the filing of the complaint on June 26, 2006, did Respondent identify a medical provider who was willing to provide an affidavit of merit that could be attached to the complaint.

27. At no time after the filing of the complaint on June 26, 2006, did Respondent identify a medical provider who was willing to provide an affidavit of merit that could be attached to the complaint. At no time after June 26, 2006, did Respondent file an affidavit of merit in the lawsuit he filed on behalf of Charles and Claudia.

28. On July 15, 2006, two weeks after the complaint was filed with Lee's Indiana address, Lee moved from that address to an address in Illinois. When Lee moved, Respondent was aware that she had moved, and that she was no longer living at the Indiana address after July 15, 2006.

29. At no time after July 15, 2006, did Respondent provide the Michigan court or any of the defendants named in the lawsuit, with notice that the Indiana address listed as the address of Charles and Claudia, was no longer an address where service or notice relative to the lawsuit could be received.

30. At no time after July 15, 2006, did Respondent provide the Michigan court or any of the defendants named in the lawsuit, with an address where Charles or Claudia could receive service or notice relative to the lawsuit.

31. At no time after July 15, 2006, did Respondent take any action to ascertain the status of the lawsuit, or to ascertain whether any responses or dispositive motions relative to the complaint, had been filed by any of defendants named in the lawsuit.

32. Between July 17, 2006 and August 8, 2006, Defendant Joseph T. Brown, DO, Defendant Gregory Waters, MD, Defendant Central Anesthesia Services, and Defendant St. Mary's Health Care, and Defendant Dr. David Herz, respectively and individually, filed motions for summary disposition of the lawsuit, arguing in part, that the case should be dismissed on the ground that no affidavit of merit had been attached to the complaint as required by Michigan rules. Copies of all of these motions were addressed to Charles and Claudia at an Indiana address where Lee used to live.

33. On August 31, 2006, a hearing was held on the motion filed by Defendant St. Mary's Health Care, and Defendant Dr. David Herz. Respondent did not file any response to the motion and did not appear in court on behalf of Charles or Claudia.

34. On September 18, 2006, Judge Johnston entered an order dismissing the lawsuit with prejudice. The court found that the filing of the complaint, without the affidavit of merit, was insufficient to commence a cause of action and insufficient to toll the statute of limitations.

35. By reason of the conduct described above, Respondent has engaged in the following misconduct:

  1. failure to act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client in violation of Rule 1.3 of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct:

  2. bringing a frivolous action where there was no good faith basis to do so in violation of Rule 3.1 of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct;

  3. conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation, in violation of Rule 8.4(a)(4) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct;

  4. conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice in violation of 8.4(a)(5) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct; and

  5. 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 770.

COUNT IV
(Misrepresentation)

36. The Administrator realleges the allegations in Counts I, II, and III, above.

37. On September 27, 2006, Charles died, and Respondent was advised of his death, shortly thereafter.

38. After the death of Charles, Claudia, asked her sister, Elizabeth Colpoys ("Elizabeth") to call Respondent and ask about the status of the case.

39. In October 2006, Respondent spoke with Elizabeth and advised her that it would take some time to work the case up to the point where Claudia would have to be deposed and that she should not expect to hear anything from him for awhile. Respondent also told Elizabeth that although Michigan had caps on damages that could be recovered in medical cases, he was hopeful that he could recover at least $600,000 for Claudia. Further, he assured Elizabeth that he would also seek loss wages on behalf of Claudia.

41. All of the statements made by Respondent to Elizabeth, described in paragraph 39 above, were false and known by Respondent to be false, or made with reckless disregard for their truth or falsity, because Respondent had taken no action to ascertain the status of the lawsuit and had taken no action to pursue the claims of Charles and Claudia.

41. In early November 2006, Claudia called Respondent's office and left a message stating that she wanted to know the status of her case and asked Respondent to send her a copy of the complaint. Respondent received this message but he did not call Claudia back and he did not send her a copy of the complaint.

42. On or about November 10, 2006, Respondent received a telephone call from Elizabeth who confronted him with her discovery that the lawsuit had been dismissed. Respondent advised Elizabeth that nothing could be done about the dismissal.

43. As of November 10, 2006, Respondent has had no further communications with Claudia or with Elizabeth.

44. By reason of the conduct described above, Respondent has engaged in the following misconduct:

  1. conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation, in violation of Rule 8.4(a)(4) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct;

  2. conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice in violation of 8.4(a)(5) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct; and

  3. 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 770.

WHEREFORE, the Administrator requests that this matter be assigned to a panel of the Hearing Board, that a hearing be held, and that the panel make findings of fact, conclusions of fact and law, and a recommendation for such discipline as is warranted.

Allison L. Wood
Counsel for the Administrator
One Prudential Plaza
130 East Randolph Drive, Suite 1500
Chicago, Illinois 60601
Telephone: (312) 565-2600 
Respectfully submitted,

Jerome Larkin, Administrator
Attorney Registration and
Disciplinary Commission

By:   Allison L. Wood