Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio

Clients’ Security Fund Reimburses $27,000 to the Victim of One Attorney

The Board of Commissioners of the Clients' Security Fund voted to reimburse a former client of former Trumbull County attorney Richard J. LaCivita $27,000 as a result of his failure to account for client funds deposited with him.

The board voted at its quarterly meeting on September 5 to award a total of $78,248 to 41 victims of attorney theft. Eight former or suspended Ohio attorneys were found to have misappropriated client funds and claims were also made on behalf of clients of three deceased attorneys. LaCivita’s client received by far the highest reimbursement of the quarter. LaCivita resigned in 2012 from the practice of law in Ohio, with discipline pending.

The Clients’ Security Fund was created in 1985 by the Ohio Supreme Court to reimburse victims of attorney theft, embezzlement or misappropriation. Since its inception it has now awarded more than $19 million to victims. The fund does not contain any taxpayer dollars, as it derives its revenue by registration fees paid by every Ohio attorney.  Ohio has more than 45,000 attorneys engaged in the active practice of law. And less than one percent of those attorneys have been involved in claims for the security funds.

Clients who believe they have sustained financial losses resulting from attorney theft, embezzlement or misappropriation should contact the fund at 614.387.9390 or toll free in Ohio at 1.800.231.1680.

To access more information about the disciplinary cases against some of these attorneys visit the Supreme Court’s online docket.

This quarter, 27 of the 41 clients were represented by attorneys from Cuyahoga County. Here are the awards determined by the board.

  • Three former clients of suspended attorney John L. Lemieux were reimbursed a total of $4,850 as a result of his failure to complete the services requested. Lemieux’s license to practice law in Ohio was suspended indefinitely on May 27, 2014.
  • A former client of former suspended attorney Ronald Robinson was reimbursed $500 as a result for failure to provide the services requested. Robinson’s license to practice law in Ohio was suspended indefinitely on October 17, 2013.
  • Twenty-two former clients of former attorney James W. Westfall, Jr. received $23,390 as a result of his failure to provide the services requested. Westfall resigned from the practice of law in Ohio, with discipline pending, on August 30, 2013.
  • A former client of deceased attorney James M. Wilsman was reimbursed $5,000 for his failure to complete the services requested prior to his death on April 15, 2011.

Former clients of two Montgomery County attorneys received reimbursements.

  • A former client of suspended attorney Shawn P. Hooks was reimbursed $1,500 for Hook’s failure to provide the services requested. Hooks was suspended from the practice of law in Ohio for a period of six months, with the suspension stayed, on June 19, 2014.
  • Two former clients of former attorney Lawrence J. White received total of $2,833.33 as a result of White’s failure to provide the services requested. White resigned from the practice of law in Ohio, with discipline pending, on March 14, 2013.

In addition, former clients of two Summit County attorneys were reimbursed.

  • A former client of former attorney Peter F. Fletcher received $525 as a result of Fletcher’s failure to provide the services requested. Fletcher was permanently disbarred from the practice of law in Ohio on April 18, 2013.
  • A former client of deceased attorney Edward C. Weber was reimbursed $500 for Weber’s failure to complete the services requested prior to his death on May 29, 2012.

Seven former clients of deceased Greene County attorney Adrienne D. Brooks were reimbursed a total of $10,650 as a result of her failure to complete the services requested prior to her death on March 12, 2013.

A former client of former Lawrence County attorney Marty J. Stillpass received $1,500 as Stillpass failed to provide the services requested. Mr. Stillpass resigned from the practice of law in Ohio, with discipline pending, on June 13, 2012.

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