COLUMBUS BAR ASSN.
v.
GABA

Supreme Court of OhioJun 17, 1992
64 Ohio St. 3d 35 (Ohio 1992)
64 Ohio St. 3d 35591 N.E.2d 1211

No. 92-422

Submitted April 15, 1992 —

Decided June 17, 1992.

ON CERTIFIED REPORT by the Board of Commissioners on Grievances and Discipline of the Supreme Court, No. 91-02.

By an amended complaint filed June 3, 1991, relator, Columbus Bar Association, charged respondent, Lawrence Charles Gaba, with having violated, inter alia, DR 1-102(A)(4) (engaging in conduct involving fraud, deceit, dishonesty, or misrepresentation); 6-101(A)(3) (neglecting a legal matter entrusted); 7-101(A)(1) (failing to seek client's lawful objectives); 7-101(A)(2) (failing to carry out a contract for employment); and 7-101(A)(3) (causing client damage or prejudice). The matter was heard by a panel of the Board of Commissioners on Grievances and Discipline of the Supreme Court on August 30, 1991.

The evidence submitted before the panel established that Ed McKinley hired respondent in October 1988 and paid him $835 to sue Volvo North America Corporation ("Volvo"). Respondent filed the complaint, but he subsequently failed to respond to Volvo's repeated requests for discovery. Respondent also failed to appear at a hearing on Volvo's motion for sanctions, and the court dismissed McKinley's action without prejudice. Respondent advised McKinley that he would refile the suit, but he did not. Respondent also did not honor McKinley's requests for refund of his retainer, and McKinley was forced to obtain a judgment for the money.

The evidence further established that respondent answered a personal injury complaint on behalf of David C. Horn and others in May 1989 and that he represented himself to be Horn's attorney in the matter. However, respondent failed to respond to the plaintiff's repeated requests for discovery. The plaintiff obtained a court order directing respondent to comply and, when respondent still did not do so, the court ordered the defendants' answer stricken. The court later granted the plaintiff's motion for a default judgment. Respondent did not advise Horn of the $135,000 judgment that had been entered against him.

The evidence also established that respondent filed a personal injury action in July 1986 on behalf of Shirley Green Canter and her minor son. Respondent repeatedly assured Canter that the matter was progressing smoothly. However, respondent again failed to respond to the defendant's discovery requests, and he ignored another court order directing him to do so. The court eventually dismissed the complaint and ordered Canter and her son to pay $500 in court costs.

Based on this evidence, the panel found that respondent had violated the above-cited Disciplinary Rules. Before making its recommendation, the panel considered that respondent had previously been publicly reprimanded for neglecting his clients' interests and that he had not cooperated with relator's investigation of the charges against him. The panel also considered, however, respondent's remorse for his misconduct and that he had been experiencing personal hardships during some of the events at issue. The panel recommended that respondent be given an indefinite suspension from the practice of law. The board adopted the panel's findings and recommendation.

Bruce A. Campbell and Stanley D. Ross, for relator.

Lawrence Charles Gaba, pro se.


Having reviewed the record, we agree that respondent violated DR 1-102(A)(4), 6-101(A)(3), and 7-101(A)(1)-(3). We also agree with the sanction recommended by the board. Therefore, respondent is hereby indefinitely suspended from the practice of law in Ohio. Costs taxed to respondent.

Judgment accordingly.

MOYER, C.J., SWEENEY, HOLMES, DOUGLAS, WRIGHT, H. BROWN and RESNICK, JJ., concur.