State Bar Association to Reimburse Client Losses
(Oklahoma City – Dec. 16, 2013) Several Oklahomans who lost money to deceased or dishonest former attorneys will be reimbursed by the Oklahoma Bar Association. The association announced its Clients’ Security Fund will pay more than $100,000 in claims to 21 clients of three former attorneys whose acts led to the losses.
OBA President Jim Stuart of Shawnee said the fund is a remedy of last resort for clients who cannot recover money from other sources, such as insurance, a bonding company or from the attorney involved.
“We do everything we can to try to compensate these clients for their losses,” said Stuart. “Clients depend on us, and we take the issue of lawyer trust very seriously. This group of former attorneys who have violated that trust makes up a very small percentage of lawyers. They are no longer practicing law, and we are happy to assist those who’ve been victimized by dishonesty.”
The OBA’s Clients’ Security Fund Committee annually reviews client claims and makes recommendations to the OBA Board of Governors on the merits of the claims. Attorney Micheal Salem of Norman, who serves as committee chairperson, said claims result when an attorney is disbarred, misappropriates client funds or dies before work is performed
“Typically these claims are paid for former attorneys who have become unstable as a result of a personal crisis, substance abuse or illness,” Salem said.
Claims to be paid this year total $100,450.01. Stuart said all active Oklahoma lawyers contribute to the fund through a portion of their annual bar dues, and more than $2.1 million in reimbursements has been paid to clients since the fund was created in 1965.
Former, suspended or deceased attorneys for whom the OBA will be paying claims, the individuals to be compensated for their losses and the reimbursement amounts are:
Deceased attorney Maxie E. Hoskins, Lawton; client Katina Armstrong, Lawton, $622.46.
Former attorney Rohit C. Sharma, Tulsa; clients Lucy Alexander, Haskell, $926.33; Shahid Ali, Oklahoma City, $5,042.86; Eduardo Contreras, Collinsville, $3,030.04; Silvia Flores-Trujillo, Tulsa, $3,895.77; GasTech Engineering LLC, Tulsa, $281.36; Mauricio Gomez, Tulsa, $865.73; Judi Hamilton, Broken Arrow, $3,895.77; Hasan A. Hasan, Glenpool, $865.73; Jose Hernandez, Tulsa, $3,895.77; Adeline Lee, Miami, $2,164.32; Gilberto Loeza, Monkey Island, $4,328.63; Erin Maldonado, Tulsa, $1,818.03; New England Dental LLC, Danbury, Conn.; $1,558.31; Esther Olazaba, Broken Arrow, $7,575.11; Bhavesh Patel, Long Branch, N.J., $2,597.18; Ludwin Rivas, Tulsa, $1,839.67; Maria Torres, Tulsa, $865.73; and Linda Vap, Atwood, Kan., $7,791.54.
Former attorney Dane T. Wilson, Norman; clients; Larry L. Parker, Noble, $22,637.89; and Sharon Peelor, Noble, $23,951.78.
More information about the Clients’ Security Fund can be found on the OBA’s website at www.okbar.org.
The 17,500-member Oklahoma Bar Association, headquartered in Oklahoma City, was created by the Oklahoma Supreme Court to advance the administration of justice and to foster and maintain learning, integrity, competence, public service and high standards of conduct among Oklahoma's legal community.