BEFORE THE HEARING BOARD
ILLINOIS ATTORNEY REGISTRATION
In the Matter of:
Commission No. 08 CH 45
FILED - June 10, 2008
Jerome Larkin, Administrator of the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission, by his attorney, Lea S. Black, pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 753(b), complains of Respondent, Craig Thomas Simmons, who was licensed to practice law in the State of Illinois on November 10, 1994, 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:
Neglect and failure to communicate in relation to Dr. Edvardas Kirvaitis
1. On or about March 5, 2005, Respondent orally agreed to represent Dr. Edvardas Kirvaitis ("Kirvaitis") in matters relating to a claim by Kirvaitis against Rashaun Williams ("Williams") that would allege that Williams had breached the terms of a rental agreement by failing to pay rent and by stating that he would not pay any future rents due under the lease. Respondent agreed to charge Kirvaitis at a rate of $40 per hour.
2. On March 5, 2005, Kirvaitis paid Respondent a $500 retainer fee, against which Respondent would bill for his services at the agreed-upon rate of $40 per hour.
3. On March 14, 2005, Respondent filed a complaint in the Circuit Court of Cook County on Kirvaitis' behalf. In the complaint, Kirvaitis sought possession of Unit 5601, Lake Point Tower, 505 N. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, from Williams, and a judgment against Williams for rent allegedly due Kirvaitis from Williams in the amount of $19,500. The matter was docketed as Edvardas Kirvaitis v. Rashaun Willians, and was assigned case number 05 M1 115542.
4. On March 30, 2005, Respondent and Kirvaitis reduced to writing their oral fee agreement in relation to the representation referred to in paragraphs one and three, above.
5. On June 9, 2005, Williams filed a verified answer and counter-complaint against Kirvaitis that alleged, in part, that Kirvaitis had failed to comply with certain laws or codes relating to the duties of landlords, including providing Williams' with uninterrupted occupancy, disclosing to Williams conditions affecting the habitability of the apartment, and identifying the owner and/or agent to Williams before or during the tenancy.
6. Between June 9, 2005, and March 1, 2006, Respondent conducted discovery, appeared in court on Kirvaitis' behalf, and responded to Williams' counter-complaint and discovery requests.
7. After about March 1, 2006, Respondent provided no further services on Kirvaitis' behalf. At no time did Respondent inform Kirvaitis that he was withdrawing from representing Kirvaitis in connection with case number 05 M1 115542.
8. On May 16, 2006, the Court entered an order that set case no. 05 M1 115542 for trial on May 31, 2006. Respondent received a copy of the order shortly after it was sent to him by the Clerk of the Court.
9. At no time did Respondent inform Kirvaitis that case number 05 M1 115542 had been set to be heard on May 31, 2006.
10. On May 31, 2006, no one appeared on Kirvaitis' behalf before the Court in case number 05 M1 115542. As a result, the Court dismissed Kirvaitis' complaint for want of prosecution and entered judgment in favor of Williams in the amount of $13,250, plus costs, in relation to Williams' counter-complaint.
11. Between May 2006, and August 2007, Kirvaitis attempted to contact Respondent regarding the status of his case approximately 30 times by telephone, 40 times by e-mail, and four times by facsimile. Though Respondent was aware, or should have been aware, of Kirvaitis' attempts to contact him, Respondent did not respond to any of Kirvaitis' phone calls, e-mails, or faxes. At no time did Respondent inform Kirvaitis that case number 05 M1 115542 had been dismissed, or that a judgment had been entered against him.
12. On or before August 13, 2007, Kirvaitis hired attorney Russell Stewart to represent him in relation to case number 05 M1 115542. On August 13, 2007, Stewart informed Kirvaitis that case number 05 M1 115542 had been dismissed and that the judgment referred to in paragraph 11, above, had been entered against him.
13. At all times alleged in this complaint, section 5/2-1401 of the Illinois Code of Civil Procedure provided that relief from final orders and judgments, after 30 days from the date of entry, may be had upon petition supported by an affidavit.
14. On March 25, 2008, Stewart filed a petition, and an affidavit in support of the petition, on Kirvaitis' behalf seeking to vacate the March 31, 2006 order dismissing case number 05 M1 115542 and to vacate judgment against Kirvaitis. On April 25, 2008, the court denied Kirvaitis' motion to vacate the March 31, 2006 order.
15. By reason of the conduct described above, Respondent has engaged in the following misconduct:
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;
failure to keep a client reasonably informed about the status of a matter and promptly comply with reasonable requests for information, in violation of Rule 1.4(a) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct;
failure to explain a matter to the extent reasonably necessary to permit the client to make informed decisions regarding the representation, in violation of Rule 1.4(b) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct;
conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice, in violation of Rule 8.4(a)(5) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct;
conduct which tends to defeat the administration of justice or to bring the courts of the legal profession in to disrepute, in violation of Illinois 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.
|Lea S. Black
Counsel for the Administrator
One Prudential Plaza
130 East Randolph Drive, Suite 1500
Chicago, Illinois 60601-6219
Telephone: (312) 565-2600