BEFORE THE HEARING BOARD

OF THE

ILLINOIS ATTORNEY REGISTRATION

AND

DISCIPLINARY COMMISSION

In the Matter of:

EDWIN JOHN HULL III,

Attorney-Respondent,

No. 3125281.

Commission No. 2014PR00046

FILED --- May 9, 2014

COMPLAINT

Jerome Larkin, Administrator of the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission by his attorney, Ari Telisman, pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 753(b) complains of Respondent, Edwin J. Hull III, who was licensed to practice law in the State of Illinois on November 5, 1979, that he engaged in the following conduct which tends to defeat the administration of justice or which brings the courts or legal profession into disrepute and subjects Respondent to discipline pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 770:

COUNT I
(Failure to maintain complete records of client trust accounts)

1. From 1984 until the mid-1990s, Respondent was a partner in the law firm Goggin, Cutler & Hull.

2. From the mid-1990s through the present, Respondent has been a partner in the law firm Cutler & Hull.

3. Cutler & Hull is a simple partnership with Respondent and David P. Cutler each owning 50% of the partnership.

4. Since 2002, Respondent and David P. Cutler have held an account ending in the four digits "9740" at Northern Trust Bank. That account ("Respondent's client fund account") is entitled "Law Offices of Cutler & Hull Client Fund Account" and is used by Respondent and David P. Cutler as a depository of funds belonging to their clients, to third parties, or, presently or potentially, to Respondent and David P. Cutler.

5. From at least August 1, 1990, until February 2002, Respondent and David P. Cutler held other client fund accounts which they used as a depository of funds belonging to their clients, to third parties, or to Respondent and David P. Cutler.

6. From August 1, 1990, to the present, both Respondent and David P. Cutler have been signatories on each of the client fund accounts for Cutler & Hull and Goggin, Cutler & Hull.

7. From August 1, 1990, to the present, both Respondent and David P. Cutler have been responsible for preparing and maintaining complete records for each of the client fund accounts for Cutler & Hull and Goggin, Cutler & Hull.

8. At no time between August 1, 1990, and February 2002 did Respondent prepare and maintain complete records for any of Cutler & Hull's or Goggin, Cutler & Hull's client fund accounts, as required by Rule 1.15(a) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct (1990).

9. At no time between February 2002 and December 31, 2009, did Respondent prepare and maintain complete records of his Northern Trust client fund account ending with the four digits of 9740, as required by Rule 1.15(a) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct (1990).

10. At no time between January 1, 2010, and December 31, 2011, did Respondent prepare and maintain complete records of his Northern Trust client fund account ending with the four digits of 9740, as required by Rules 1.15 (a)(1) through 1.15(a)(8) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct (2010).

11. Until 2012, Respondent did not keep written records for his client fund accounts during the entire existence of Cutler & Hull or Goggin, Cutler & Hull.

12. By reason of the conduct described above that occurred before January 1, 2010, Respondent has engaged in the following misconduct:

  1. failure to prepare and maintain complete records of a client trust account, in violation of Rule 1.15(a) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct (1990).

13. By reason of the conduct described above that occurred on or after January 1, 2010, Respondent has engaged in the following misconduct:

  1. failure to prepare and maintain complete records of a client trust account, in violation of Rules 1.15(a)(1) through 1.15(a)(8) of the Illinois Rules of Professional conduct (2010).

COUNT II
(Failure to make reasonable efforts to ensure compliance
with the Rules of Professional Conduct
)

14. The Administrator realleges the allegations contained in Paragraphs 1 through 13 of Count I, above.

15. Sometime prior to October 2008, Leslie Grant hired Cutler & Hull to represent her in a personal injury claim for damages sustained when a shuttle bus driver closed a door on her hand.

16. While David P. Cutler acted as the primary attorney for Grant's case, Respondent had a responsibility to ensure that Cutler & Hull had measures in effect to make reasonable assurances that Cutler's conduct conformed to the Rules of Professional Conduct.

17. On or prior to October 28, 2008, David P. Cutler negotiated a $50,000.00 settlement with the taxicab driver's insurer, Specialty Risk Services, LLC.

18. On or about October 28, 2008, Specialty Risk Services, LLC, issued a check for $50,000.00 in settlement of Grant's claim. The check, draft number 1033369756, was made payable to Grant and Cutler & Hull, as attorneys.

19. On or about November 3, 2008, someone acting on behalf of Cutler & Hull deposited draft number 1033369756 into the Cutler & Hull client fund account.

20. Grant was entitled to at least $28,794.86 of the $50,000.00 settlement.

21. On or about November 7, 2008, David P. Cutler issued check number 1461 from the Cutler & Hull client fund account to Grant in the amount of $28,794.86.

22. On or about November 19, 2008, Grant attempted to negotiate check number 1461.

23. On November 19, 2008, the balance on the Cutler & Hull client fund account was $19,485.18. Grant's attempt to negotiate check number 1461 resulted in a negative balance of -$9,309.68 and check number 1461 was returned due to insufficient funds.

24. On or about April 25, 2008, Karen Guice hired Cutler & Hull to represent her in in a personal injury claim for damages sustained when she fell while on property owned by Monument of Faith on December 2, 2006.

25. While David P. Cutler acted as the primary attorney for Guice's case, Respondent had a responsibility to ensure that Cutler & Hull had measures in effect to make reasonable assurances that Cutler's conduct conformed to the Rules of Professional Conduct.

26. David P. Cutler and Guice agreed in writing that Cutler & Hull's fee would be contingent upon Cutler & Hull recovering a settlement or award on behalf of Guice, and that Cutler & Hull would receive a fee equal to one-third of any such recovery, plus costs.

27. Sometime between April and November 2008, David P. Cutler engaged in settlement negotiations with GuideOne Mutual Insurance, the insurer of Monument of Faith, which owned the property where Guice slipped and fell.

28. On or about November 18, 2008, Dr. James Schiappa issued a notice of a physician's lien in the amount of $9,125.00 relating to treatment he provided to Guice in connection with the December 2, 2006, event.

29. On or about November 19, 2008, GuideOne Mutual Insurance issued a check for $65,000.00 in settlement of Guice's claim. The check, draft number 40934773, was made payable to Guice and Cutler & Hull, her attorneys.

30. On or about November 21, 2008, someone acting on behalf of Cutler & Hull deposited draft number 40934773 into the Cutler & Hull client fund account.

31. Without the money from the Guice settlement, the Cutler & Hull client fund account did not have sufficient funds to pay Leslie Grant the $28,794.86 she was owed.

32. Pursuant to the one-third contingency fee agreement between Cutler & Hull and Guice, Cutler & Hull was entitled to receive a fee of $21,666. Guice, Dr. Schiappa, and any other third person due a portion of the settlement funds, were entitled to the remaining $43,334.

33. On April 20, 2009, prior to any disbursement to Guice, Dr. Schiappa, or any other third party who held a claim to the settlement funds, the balance of the Cutler & Hull client fund account fell to $5,611.61.

34. Between April 1, 2009, and April 28, 2009, Respondent and/or David P. Cutler transferred $36,050 from the Cutler & Hull client fund account into Cutler & Hull's operating account.

35. Between April 1, 2009, and April 28, 2009, Respondent and/or David P. Cutler wrote 24 checks from the Cutler & Hull operating account to Respondent and Respondent's family members totaling $14,504.

36. Between April 1, 2009, and April 28, 2009, the Cutler & Hull operating account was overdrawn and had a negative balance on six days.

37. At no time between November 21, 2008, and June 28, 2010, did Respondent or David P. Cutler deliver any funds to Guice, Dr. Schiappa, or any other third person entitled to a portion of the settlement funds.

38. At no time between August 1, 1990, and December 31, 2011, did Cutler & Hull have in effect measures to prepare and maintain complete records of the Cutler & Hull client fund account.

39. At no time between August 1, 1990, and December 31, 2011, did Respondent create or implement a procedure to prepare and maintain complete records of the Cutler & Hull trust account.

40. By reason of the conduct described above that occurred before January 1, 2010, Respondent has engaged in the following misconduct:

  1. failure to make reasonable efforts to ensure that the firm has in effect measures giving reasonable assurance that the conduct of all lawyers in the firm conforms to the Rules of Professional Conduct by conduct including failing to create and implement procedures to prepare and maintain complete records of a client trust account, in violation of Rule 5.1(a) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct (1990).

41. By reason of the conduct described above that occurred on or after January 1, 2010, Respondent has engaged in the following misconduct:

  1. failure to make reasonable efforts to ensure that the firm has in effect measures giving reasonable assurance that all lawyers in the firm conform to the Rules of Professional Conduct by conduct including failing to create and implement procedures to prepare and maintain complete records of a client trust account, in violation of Rule 5.1(a) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct (2010).

WHEREFORE, the Administrator respectfully 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.

Ari Telisman
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:  Ari Telisman