disciplinary matter arises from formal charges filed by the
Office of Disciplinary Counsel ("ODC") against
respondent, Peter Brian Derouen, an attorney licensed to
practice law in Louisiana, but currently ineligible to
August 2014, Danielle Garner retained respondent to represent
her in a personal injury matter stemming from an automobile
accident. Thereafter, respondent failed to communicate with
Ms. Garner and failed to coordinate necessary medical
treatment for her injuries.
March 2015, Ms. Garner hired attorney Gabe Duhon to assume
the representation. Mr. Duhon asked respondent for a copy of
Ms. Garner's file, an accounting of settlement proceeds,
and an itemization of expenses. Respondent promised to
deliver the file by March 23, 2015. When he failed to do so,
Mr. Duhon sent respondent two e-mails requesting the file. He
also spoke with respondent by telephone and informed him that
medical bill collectors were contacting Ms. Garner.
Respondent assured Mr. Duhon that the bills had been paid and
promised to personally deliver the file on April 29, 2015.
Respondent did not deliver the file as promised. Mr. Duhon
then spoke with respondent's secretary, who said she
would immediately e-mail the file. When this did not occur,
she promised to put the contents of the file onto a disc.
following day, members of Mr. Duhon's staff found a
manila envelope on the sidewalk outside his office. The
envelope was labeled "Garner" and contained one
disc labeled "Danielle Garner." The disc contained
no settlement documentation, no copies of proceed checks, no
settlement disbursement sheet, and no accounting. After
reviewing the contents of the disc, Mr. Duhon asked
respondent to immediately e-mail any settlement disbursement
sheets and/or documents executed by Ms. Garner, as well as
copies of checks paid on her behalf. After getting no
response, Mr. Duhon made multiple additional demands upon
respondent for an accounting, to no avail.
Duhon later learned that in December 2014, Ms. Garner's
UM insurer, Esurance, tendered to respondent a check in the
amount of $13, 746.44. Respondent had Ms. Garner endorse the
check and he then deposited it into his client trust account.
Respondent had also settled the claim against the defendant
insurer for $15, 000.00. Two checks were delivered to him in
February 2015. The first, a $9, 118.76 check, was to pay a
medical lien, which was never paid. Respondent deposited the
second check, in the amount of $5, 881.24, into his trust
account after Ms. Garner endorsed it. The only sums paid by
respondent were a $1, 000 "loan" to Ms. Garner,
$19.46 to Acadian Ambulance, and $8.50 to Louisiana State
another unfulfilled request for an accounting and for
immediate delivery of checks and/or funds in his possession,
Mr. Duhon and Ms. Garner filed complaints against respondent
with the ODC. Respondent failed to respond to either,
necessitating the issuance of a subpoena to obtain his sworn
statement. On the day before the sworn statement was
scheduled, respondent contacted the ODC asking to be excused
from the sworn statement and to request new copies of the
complaints, claiming he had never received them. The
statement was canceled. Respondent was given the copies and
instructed to respond. The ODC then discovered that he had
personally signed for the prior complaints. Respondent was
asked to provide an explanation as to why he stated that he
had never received the complaints.
response, respondent did not give the explanation, or address
his failures to produce the file, or provide an accounting of
funds, or provide any disbursement sheets of any monies/funds
received, or produce an itemization of all expenses, or remit
any settlement funds he received. Accordingly, the ODC asked
respondent to provide a supplemental written response. Once
again, respondent failed to explain the claim that he never
received the initial complaints. The ODC issued another
subpoena for his sworn statement as well as a subpoena duces
tecum. The statement was initially scheduled for February,
but because the ODC was unable to serve respondent, the
statement was re-set for March. At that time, the documents
responsive to the subpoena duces tecum were to be collected.
appeared for the statement, but he did not bring the
documents. He was then instructed to produce the documents as
well as additional information that the ODC felt was
necessary by March 18, 2016. At that time, respondent
provided only some of the requested information. Two months
later, he provided some more, but not all, of the additional
Duhon moved to enforce the settlement against the insurance
company in Ms. Garner's matter. Respondent, who was not
present for the hearing, was ordered to return $5, 881.24 to
Ms. Garner. When he failed to pay her, Mr. Duhon moved for
respondent to be held in contempt. Respondent was personally
served with notice of the court date, but he failed to appear
and was held in contempt.
October 2015, Mr. Duhon sued respondent on behalf of Ms.
Garner. He subpoenaed respondent's bank records and
forwarded them to the ODC. A review of his trust account
showed a deposit of $19, 627.68 in Ms. Garner's
settlement funds but only $209.17 in the account. Because Ms.
Garner received only $1, 000 from respondent, $18, 627.68 of
her funds had been converted. During his sworn statement,
respondent acknowledged that he owed Ms. Garner the funds,
although he was unsure of the exact amount. Respondent also
promised to "cash in" an investment to pay her. To
date, he has not done so.