IN RE: Durward D. CASTEEL
ATTORNEY DISCIPLINARY PROCEEDING
La. 1] This disciplinary matter arises from formal charges
filed by the Office of Disciplinary Counsel ("ODC")
against respondent, Durward D. Casteel, an attorney licensed
to practice law in Louisiana but currently on interim
suspension pursuant to a joint motion of the parties filed in
November 2018. In re: Casteel, 18-1745 (La.
11/5/18), 255 So.3d 1038.
was hired to defend Patrick ODonnell against a claim pending
in Oklahoma. On February 25, 2015, Mr. ODonnell forwarded to
respondent the sum of $350,000 to fund Mr. ODonnells
contribution of any future settlement. When a settlement was
reached, Mr. ODonnell called upon respondent to fund his
contribution to the settlement using the funds entrusted to
respondent for safe keeping. Respondent advised Mr. ODonnell
that he had converted the funds to his own use and that they
were no longer available. In a sworn statement to the ODC,
respondent confirmed that he converted the entirety of Mr.
La. 2] Count II
2014, respondent was hired to defend Criterion Claim
Solutions of Omaha in a lawsuit against a named insured. The
carrier negotiated a settlement of the claim and forwarded to
respondent a $10,000 check payable to the plaintiff to be
used for the completion of the settlement. Upon receipt of
the check, respondent forged the plaintiffs name, cashed the
check, and converted the funds to his own use. In a sworn
statement to the ODC, respondent confirmed that he forged the
plaintiffs name on the settlement check and converted the
funds to his own use.
December 2018, the ODC filed formal charges against
respondent, alleging that his conduct violated the following
provisions of the Rules of Professional Conduct: Rules 8.4(a)
(violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct), 8.4(b)
(commission of a criminal act that reflects adversely on the
lawyers honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness as a lawyer),
and 8.4(c) (engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud,
deceit, or misrepresentation).
Respondent failed to answer the formal charges. Accordingly,
the factual allegations contained therein were deemed
admitted and proven by clear and convincing evidence pursuant
Supreme Court Rule XIX, § 11(E)(3). No formal hearing was
held, but the parties were given an opportunity to file with
the hearing committee written arguments and documentary
evidence on the issue of sanctions. Respondent filed nothing
for the hearing committees consideration.