Board of Overseers of the Bar v. John P. Frankenfield, Esq.

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Docket No.: GCF 99-135

Issued by: Grievance Commission

Date: September 22, 2000

Respondent: John P. Frankenfield, Esq.

Bar Number: 008176

Order: Reprimand

Disposition/Conduct: Neglect


Report of Findings of Panel D of the Grievance Commission

On September 22, 2000, pursuant to due notice, Panel D of the Grievance Commission conducted a disciplinary hearing open to the public according to Maine Bar Rule 7.1(e)(2), to determine whether there were grounds for the issuance of a reprimand or whether probable cause existed for the finding of an information concerning alleged misconduct by the Respondent, John P. Frankenfield, Esq., (Frankenfield), as described in a Petition dated and filed by the Board of Overseers of the Bar (Board) on June 13, 2000.

Assistant Bar Counsel, Karen G. Kingsley, Esq., represented the Board, and Frankenfield was pro se, and both were present at the hearing. The complainant, James E. Quimby, Jr. (Quimby) having been provided with notice and an opportunity to be present, did not attend the hearing. He had, however, been notified and understood that the parties had stipulated to the following facts and agreed upon disposition of this matter by a reprimand, which the Panel now so finds and adopts:

  1. In February 1997 Quimby contacted the Law Offices of Anthony P. Shusta, II, in Madison, Maine for the purpose of filing a bankruptcy.
  2. Frankenfield was an associate in the law offices, and he spoke to Quimby about his bankruptcy matter.
  3. Quimby paid a retainer of $600 to the law firm for the purpose of filing a bankruptcy for him.
  4. Frankenfield told Quimby that the matter would take approximately four to five months to finalize.
  5. Frankenfield told Quimby to refer any creditors to him.
  6. Approximately a year passed and Quimby received no information about the status of his bankruptcy.
  7. Creditors continued to contact Quimby directly.
  8. At some point Quimby received notice a creditor was taking him to court for a disclosure hearing on an amount owed.
  9. Quimby consulted with Frankenfield who told him that he would be in court that day and would try to resolve matters with the creditor.
  10. Quimby did not attend court that day and a civil order of arrest was issued for his failure to appear in court.
  11. After the premature birth of his son in November 1998 Frankenfield was infrequently in the office and was not available for appointments and to return telephone calls from Quimby.
  12. In July 1999 Frankenfield met with Quimby in his office and had him sign papers to initiate the bankruptcy process telling him he would file the paperwork to finalize the matter.
  13. As time went by and Quimby heard nothing on the bankruptcy from Frankenfield, in September of 1999 Quimby called the Bankruptcy Court in Bangor only to learn that no bankruptcy petition had ever been filed.
  14. Frankenfield has been a Maine attorney since 1995, and he has no prior disciplinary record.

Conclusion

The Panel concludes that the appropriate disposition of this case is a reprimand as Frankenfield neglected the filing of Quimby's bankruptcy petition although his law office had accepted a retainer for him to perform those services for Quimby. Frankenfield has no prior disciplinary record. A reprimand is generally appropriate when a lawyer is negligent and does not act with reasonable diligence in representing a client, and causes injury or potential injury to a client. ABA Standards for Imposing Lawyer Sanctions§ 4.43.


For the Grievance Commission

Patricia Ender, Esq., Chair
Theodore K. Hoch, Esq.
Celeste Branham