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In re Rushing

Supreme Court of Louisiana

November 21, 2014

IN RE: STEVEN L. RUSHING

OPINION

[14-2053 La. 1] ATTORNEY DISCIPLINARY PROCEEDINGS

PER CURIAM

This disciplinary matter arises from formal charges filed by the Office of Disciplinary Counsel (" ODC" ) against respondent,

Page 139

Steven L. Rushing, an attorney licensed to practice law in Louisiana, but currently suspended from practice.

PRIOR DISCIPLINARY HISTORY

Before we address the current charges, we find it helpful to review respondent's prior disciplinary history.

Respondent was admitted to the practice of law in Louisiana in 1989. He is also a member of the Texas Bar. Respondent has been the subject of two reciprocal discipline proceedings in Louisiana based upon discipline imposed against him in Texas. In In re: Rushing, 11-1995 (La. 11/18/11), 74 So.3d 708 (" Rushing I " ), respondent was suspended from the practice of law for twenty-four months, with twelve months deferred, for neglect of a legal matter, failure to communicate with a client, knowing disobedience of an obligation under the rules of a tribunal, and conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation. In In re: Rushing, 12-1172 (La. 9/14/12), 98 So.3d 284 (" Rushing II " ), respondent was suspended from the practice of law for four years (beginning November 15, 2012 and ending November 14, 2016) and, separately, suspended from the practice of law for six years, with three years deferred (beginning November 15, 2016), for [14-2053 La. 2] neglect of two legal matters, failure to communicate with his clients, making misrepresentations to the clients concerning the status of their cases, and failing to return the clients' files to them upon request or upon termination of the representation. Respondent remains suspended in Louisiana at this time.

Against this backdrop, we now turn to a consideration of the misconduct at issue in the present proceeding.

FORMAL CHARGES

In February 2013, in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, respondent was charged in a bill of information with one count of mail fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1341. The bill of information alleged that between January 2007 and December 2011, respondent devised a scheme to defraud insurance companies and medical providers and used the United States mail to execute the scheme. Respondent allegedly negotiated settlements on behalf of clients whom he represented in personal injury matters. While negotiating final settlement amounts, respondent would represent to his clients and the insurers that he would use a portion of the settlement proceeds to pay some or all of the client's outstanding medical bills. In reliance upon these representations, and a release of claims executed by respondent's client, the insurer would send a check to respondent's office. After receiving the check, respondent would deposit it into his account and disburse his client's portion of the settlement. Respondent would also execute checks payable to his client's medical providers, but he did not actually send these checks to the providers and instead converted that portion of the settlement to his own use.

On February 15, 2013, respondent pleaded guilty as charged. In the factual basis, respondent acknowledged that on June 20, 2011, he sent a letter to Farmers Insurance representing that he would use funds from a proposed settlement on [14-2053 La. 3] behalf of a client to satisfy " any and all hospital, health insurance, and/or Medicaid/Medicare liens and/or billing" in order to secure a settlement in the amount of $6,836.00, when in fact, he did not intend to, nor did he ever, pay his client's liens with the settlement proceeds.

DISCIPLINARY PROCEEDINGS

In August 2013, the ODC filed one count of formal charges against respondent, alleging that his ...


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