Board of Overseers of the Bar v. C. Peter Bos, Esq.
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Docket No.: GCF-10-019 and GCF-10-225
Issued by: Grievance Commission
Date: March 31, 2011
Respondent: C. Peter Bos, Esq.
Bar Number: 002951
Disposition/Conduct: Standards of Care and Judgment; Diligence; Communication; Neglect
Report of Findings of Panel C of the Grievance Commission
On February 9, 2011, with due notice, Panel A of the Grievance Commission conducted a public disciplinary hearing pursuant to Maine Bar Rule 7.1(e)(2)(E), concerning misconduct by the Respondent, C. Peter Bos, Esq. The disciplinary proceeding had been commenced by the filing of a Disciplinary Petition by the Board of Overseers of the Bar (the Board) on October 30, 2010. On December 20, 2010 by agreement of the parties, the Board amended its Petition following the receipt of additional information from Complainant, Eric Voelker.
At the March 31, 2011 hearing, Attorney Bos was represented by Marvin H. Glazier, Esq. and the Board was represented by Assistant Bar Counsel Aria Eee. Additionally, complainants Eric and Jean Voelker and James Kurtz were all present for the proceeding. The complainants each had been provided with a copy of the parties’ proposed stipulated sanction Report to review in advance of the stipulated hearing.
Prior to that hearing, the parties had submitted a stipulated, proposed sanction Report for the Grievance Commission Panel’s review and consideration. Having reviewed the agreed proposed findings as presented by counsel, the Panel makes the following disposition:
Respondent C. Peter Bos (Bos) of Bangor, Maine has been at all times relevant hereto an attorney duly admitted to and engaging in the practice of law in the State of Maine and subject to the Maine Bar Rules. Attorney Bos was admitted to the Maine Bar in 1984 and he is currently registered as an active Maine attorney.
From 2007-2010, Bos represented the complainants, Mr. and Mrs. Voelker in a civil matter related to an injury which occurred at their home in 2006. After the Voelkers were served with the plaintiff’s lawsuit, they sought out Bos for representation to defend the action on their behalf. While no engagement agreement was executed at their meeting, the Voelkers gave Bos information and documentation intended to secure his representation. Despite the fact that he did not at that time consider himself to be the Voelkers’ attorney, Bos acknowledges that the Voelkers believed he was their attorney and he may not have clearly advised the Voelkers that he in fact, was not their attorney at that time. Bos did contact Plaintiff’s counsel to indicate he was going to send the summons and complaint to the Voelkers’ insurance carrier. Bos also told the Voelkers that he would contact Plaintiff’s counsel to inform him of Bos’ contact with the Voelkers and his advice to them. Bos did in fact contact Plaintiff’s counsel to relate what advice he had given to the Voelkers; but Bos did not ask counsel for an extension of time so that a response could be made to the complaint. Bos did not follow up with an attempt to contact Plaintiff’s counsel or the Voelkers as to whether the insurance carrier would provide a defense. Unbeknownst to the Voelkers, Bos did not file an answer to the June 2007 lawsuit and a default judgment was entered against the Voelkers. When the Voelkers were served with notice of the default they contacted Bos who attempted to have the default set aside. He was not successful in that attempt and a $60,000 judgment was issued against the Voelkers after a hearing in which Bos participated. Ultimately, a parcel of land owned by the Voelkers was sold at a sheriff’s sale to satisfy the judgment. Bos’ failures related to the Voelkers’ claim constituted violations of then applicable Maine Bar Rules and 3.6(a)(2)(3) (standards of care and judgment/neglect).
During the same time period, complainant Mr. Kurtz and his then wife, Dawn Hill, retained Bos to represent Hill regarding injuries she suffered due to an April 2006 car accident. Mr. Kurtz’ loss of consortium claim was included within the context of that personal injury matter. Ms. Hill and Mr. Kurtz complained that Bos’ pursuit of Hill’s matter was delayed and negatively impacted their ability to pay her medical bills. While Bos apparently believed Ms. Hill wished to defer filing a lawsuit, by the summer of 2009, Hill was insistent that the lawsuit be filed by Bos. Despite her repeated attempts to ensure that Bos initiated that filing, he failed to do so.
Moreover, the couple was reliant on the proceeds from the proposed lawsuit to pay down marital debts. During their recent divorce, Hill and Kurtz repeatedly made reference to the anticipated settlement funds, a fact of which Bos was aware and periodically discussed with Kurtz’ divorce lawyer. Bos’ failures related to the Hill/Kurtz legal matter constituted violations of Maine Bar Rules 3.6(a)(2)(3) (standards of care and judgment) and Maine Rule of Professional Conduct 1.3 (diligence) and 1.4 (communication).
During the pendency of Mr. Kurtz’ 2010 complaint matter, Ms. Hill was referred to another attorney to act as successor counsel for the personal injury case. That attorney has reportedly agreed to represent Ms. Hill and Mr. Kurtz in their respective claims.
The Code of Professional Responsibility and the Maine Rules of Professional Conduct specifically require attorneys to uphold their duties to clients and the courts. Due to Attorney Bos’ actions, Ms. Hill’s personal injury case has been significantly delayed, thereby also resulting in a contemporaneous delay for Mr. Kurtz’ separate claim. Likewise, Mr. and Mrs. Voelker reasonably relied on Attorney Bos to defend them in the 2007 personal injury lawsuit. Bos, however, failed to properly communicate the scope of any representation he undertook with the Voelkers and failed to ensure that their interests were protected. The harm to the Voelkers was significant and avoidable, if steps had been taken to prevent a judgment by default.
The Panel notes that Attorney Bos was publicly reprimanded in January 2009 for conduct similar in time and detail to that which occurred in his dealings with the Voelkers and Ms. Hill/Mr. Kurtz. (See GCF# 07-276). It appears to the Panel that most of the conduct complained about in the instant matters occurred during the same time period in which Attorney Bos was then struggling to manage his practice.
It is apparent that Attorney Bos is sincerely remorseful for his failure to properly monitor his clients’ separate legal matters and to adequately communicate with each of them. To address the concerns about his practice management deficiencies, the parties have agreed that he will submit his practice to monitoring by Attorney David King of Bangor, ME. The parties have executed a confidential monitoring agreement which the Panel has reviewed and accepted as part of the disposition in this proceeding. In that regard, the Panel anticipates that Attorney Bos will improve his client relations, his calendaring system and the breadth of his caseload, so as to avoid future complaints of client neglect.
M. Bar. R. 2(a) provides that the purpose of bar disciplinary proceedings is not punishment, but rather the protection of the public from attorneys who, by their conduct, have demonstrated that they are unable to discharge properly their professional duties. At the disciplinary proceeding, Attorney Bos apologized for his actions and accepted responsibility for his multiple violations of the Code of Professional Responsibility and the Maine Rules of Professional Conduct.
Since the evidence of misconduct supports a finding and Attorney Bos agrees he did in fact violate the Code of Professional Responsibility and the Maine Rules of Professional Conduct, the Panel finds that its issuance of two public reprimands and a monitoring of Bos’ practice should serve to adequately protect the public.
Therefore, the Panel accepts the agreement of the parties including Attorney Bos’ separately executed waiver of the right to file a Petition for Review. The Panel concludes that the appropriate dispositions of these cases is the issuance of two Public Reprimands to C. Peter Bos, Esq. which are now hereby issued and imposed upon him pursuant to M. Bar R. 7.1(e)(3)(C), (4).
For the Grievance Commission
James A. McKenna, Esq., Chair
Sarah McPartland-Good, Esq.
Norman A. Ross