Inattention to Detail Results in Suspension for Dayton Lawyer
The Ohio Supreme Court suspended John J. Scaccia of Dayton for violating professional conduct rules in two clients’ cases. The court ordered a one-year suspension with six months stayed if Scaccia meets specific conditions. The suspension will run concurrently with a 2014 suspension for poor attention to detail during the same timeframe as the misconduct in this case.
In 2007, Scaccia took on a personal injury case for a contingent fee. However, after he settled the case, he did not sign the statement explaining the distribution of settlement proceeds and did not have his client sign it either – violations of attorney conduct rules. Scaccia also failed to pay about $2,300 to some of the client’s medical providers and did not keep sufficient funds in his client trust account.
In a second matter, Scaccia agreed to represent a Montgomery County man and later his mother in a pending criminal case. In 2013, they were indicted for drug-related crimes.
In today’s 7-0 decision, the court noted that Scaccia did not place the mother’s retainer check in his client trust account and did not inform her in writing that he had no professional liability insurance, although he told her verbally. In addition, the court concluded he did not communicate effectively with her about his representation because he failed to give a clear explanation of what he would do as her lawyer or the possible problems that might occur while representing two criminal defendants in the same case.
The court in the per curiam opinion dismissed other charges brought by the Dayton Bar Association in these two cases. In a report to the court, the state disciplinary board pointed out that some of Scaccia’s misconduct took place when he and his family members were suffering health problems. Scaccia has hired additional staff and taken other steps to try to prevent mistakes in the future, the report indicated.
The board also explained that this misconduct and Scaccia’s 2014 suspension, which is still in effect, stemmed from the “same inattention to detail and cover overlapping timeframes.” The court agreed with the board’s finding that Scaccia is unlikely to commit future intentional misconduct and ordered that today’s suspension run simultaneously with the earlier sanction.
Conditions for Stay
Scaccia’s one-year suspension will be stayed for six months if he submits to monitored probation during the stay and for one year after, and if he takes 12 hours of law-office-management education on top of the mandated continuing education for lawyers.
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