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There was one decision this week on attorney ethics and discipline from the Minnesota Supreme Court.  The decision highlights the importance of promptly communicating with clients and returning client files after representation has concluded.

A14-1553, In re Petition for Disciplinary Action against Kristi Dannette McNeilly, a Minnesota Attorney,Registration No. 341265.

The Director of the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility filed a petition for disciplinary action alleging that respondent Kristi Dannette McNeilly committed professional misconduct, namely, engaging in a conflict of interest; after terminating representation, failing to communicate important dates to a client, failing to promptly return client files, and making misrepresentations to a District Ethics Committee investigator; bringing a lawsuit based, in part, on an ethics complaint filed with the Director; and engaging in a pattern of misconduct in mortgage modification matters by failing to act diligently, failing to adequately communicate with clients, failing to promptly return client files, attempting to charge for copying client files without the appropriate written agreement, and making misrepresentations, in violation of Minn. R. Prof. Conduct 1.3, 1.4, l.7(a)(2), l.l6(d) and (f), 3.1, 8.1(a), and 8.4(c) and (d), and Rule 21, Rules on Lawyers Professional Responsibility (RLPR).

Respondent attorney raised mental health issues as a mitigating factor, but agreed to a public reprimand and supervised probation for three years.  Accordingly, the Minnesota Supreme Court imposed that discipline, and required the respondent to undergo a complete psychological evaluation and initiate or continue treatment for her mental illness.

Tim represents attorneys facing professional discipline, and consults with attorneys about whether a particular situation or proposed course of conduct implicates the Rules of Professional Conduct.  When faced with a situation that may implicate the Rules of Professional Conduct, Tim always recommends that an attorney seek an advisory opinion from the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility. 

WARNING: The information contained in this blog post does not constitute legal advice and may not be applicable to your situation.  Reading this blog post does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Baland Law Office, P.L.L.C.  Also, Tim is licensed only in state and federal courts in Minnesota.  As such, any information provided in this blog post pertains only to those jurisdictions.  Further, you should always discuss your situation with an attorney before taking any action based on what you may read in this blog.  To that end, please call (763) 450-9494 to set up an appointment to discuss your situation.

 
 
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There was one decision on unemployment benefits issued this week by the Minnesota Court of Appeals.  The decision highlights the rule that intentionally disobeying an established company policy is employment misconduct -- a violation of the standards of behavior that an employer has the right to reasonably expect -- makes an applicant ineligible for unemployment benefits. 

A14-1075, Michael McCalister, Relator, vs. The Fresh Group Ltd. - Maglio & Company, Respondent, Department of Employment and Economic Development, Respondent.

 Relator Michael McCalister challenges the denial of his claim for unemployment benefits, arguing that the unemployment-law judge erred in determining that he was discharged for employment misconduct.  The misconduct in this case was using a cell phone on the production floor after repeatedly being warned that such behavior violated company policy.  Because sufficient evidence exists to support the decision, we affirm.

If you are denied unemployment benefits, or are an employer who wants to challenge a former employee's eligibility for benefits, your best bet is to meet with an attorney who handles unemployment appeals to discuss your options.  To that end, I represent both applicants and employers in unemployment appeals.  Please call (763) 450-9494 today to set up an appointment to discuss your situation.

WARNING: The information contained in this blog post does not constitute legal advice and may not be applicable to your situation.  Reading this blog post does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Baland Law Office, P.L.L.C.  Also, Tim is licensed only in state and federal courts in Minnesota.  As such, any information provided in this blog post pertains only to those jurisdictions.  Further, you should always discuss your situation with an attorney before taking any action based on what you may read in this blog.  To that end, please call (763) 450-9494 to set up an appointment to discuss your situation. 

 
 
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There were two decisions -- actually, one decision and one order -- on attorney discipline from the Minnesota Supreme Court.  The decision is noteworthy because two of the Justices, including the Chief Justice, dissented.  The order stands for the proposition that attorneys should not violate the Rules of Professional Conduct while on probation for a prior disciplinary offense.

A13-1382, In re Petition for Disciplinary Action against Larry S. Severson, a Minnesota Attorney, Registration No. 99363

The respondent attorney engaged in misconduct by entering into an investment agreement, which amounted to an unsecured $500,000 loan, and several related business transactions with a client in violation of his obligations under the rules of professional conduct regarding conflicts of interest. The attorney also made misrepresentations to a client and opposing counsel in the course of a civil lawsuit, and to the Director during the disciplinary investigation, caused harm to his client, and did not demonstrate genuine remorse for the misconduct.  Based upon these violations of the rules of professional conduct, the appropriate discipline is an indefinite suspension from the practice of law with no right to petition for reinstatement for 1 year.

The dissent argued that the Minnesota Supreme Court should have imposed a 3-month suspension, as recommended by the referee, because a longer suspension is warranted only when the attorney intentionally commits an act of dishonesty.  The dissent wrote:

A lawyer’s first responsibility is to represent his client’s interests. There is great peril for both lawyer and client when, as here, the client’s interests and the lawyer’s interests are intertwined. Severson’s failure to make his client’s interests the paramount concern necessitates discipline. Given the unique facts in this record, however, I would suspend Severson from the practice of law for 3 months as recommended by the referee.

 However, the dissent is in the minority, and the longer suspension carries the day.

A14-2158, In re Petition for Disciplinary Action against Shannon M. Fitzpatrick, a Minnesota Attorney, Registration No. 345349.

The Director of the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility filed a petition for disciplinary action alleging that respondent Shannon M. Fitzpatrick committed professional misconduct, namely, that while on disciplinary probation, respondent cut and pasted a client's signature from another document to a stipulation for an order, with
that client's knowledge, notarized the signature, and filed the document with the district court, in violation ofMinn. R. Prof. Conduct 8.4(c) and (d).Respondent waived her procedural rights under Rule 14, Rules on Lawyers
Professional Responsibility (RLPR), and unconditionally admitted the allegations of the petition. In a stipulation for discipline, the parties jointly recommended that the appropriate discipline is a 30-day suspension and 2 years of probation. After filing the stipulation for discipline, respondent asked the court to make her suspension retroactive
to January 1, 2015, or in the alternative, to impose a 30-day stayed suspension.  The Minnesota Supreme Court imposed the agreed-upon discipline: a 30-day suspension.

Tim represents attorneys facing professional discipline, and consults with attorneys about whether a particular situation or proposed course of conduct implicates the Rules of Professional Conduct.  When faced with a situation that may implicate the Rules of Professional Conduct, Tim always recommends that an attorney seek an advisory opinion from the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility. 

WARNING: The information contained in this blog post does not constitute legal advice and may not be applicable to your situation.  Reading this blog post does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Baland Law Office, P.L.L.C.  Also, Tim is licensed only in state and federal courts in Minnesota.  As such, any information provided in this blog post pertains only to those jurisdictions.  Further, you should always discuss your situation with an attorney before taking any action based on what you may read in this blog.  To that end, please call (763) 450-9494 to set up an appointment to discuss your situation.

 
 
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There were four decisions on unemployment benefits released this week by the Minnesota Court of Appeals.  While three of the decisions were affirmed, one was reversed.  Two of the affirmed decisions stand for the proposition that a person who quits a job in ineligible for unemployment benefits unless that person had a good reason for quitting caused by the employer.  The other affirmed decision restates the rule that an appeal must be filed by a strict deadline or it will be dismissed.  In the case that was reversed, the Relator was available for suitable work -- a prerequisite to receiving unemployment benefits -- during the period for which he sought benefits.  

A14-1249, Robert S. Paxton, Relator, vs. Ind. School District #047, Respondent, Department of Employment and Economic Development, Respondent.

Relator challenges the unemployment-law judge’s (ULJ) decision that he did not have a good reason to quit caused by his employer and that certain subpoenaed records were irrelevant. 
The ULJ found that Paxton quit for four reasons and concluded that none was a good reason caused by the employer: (1) poor relations with subordinates; (2) disciplinary action taken against Paxton; (3) e-mail exchanges Paxton discovered between coworkers that he believed constituted harassment; and (4) a negotiated severance package. The record supports the ULJ’s decision that Paxton quit employment without a good reason caused by the employer.  As such, the Court of Appeals affirmed the ULJ's decision.

A14-1321 and A14-1325, Kari Robinson, Relator, vs. The Schuett Companies, Inc., Respondent, Department of Employment and Economic Development, Respondent.

Kari Robinson challenges an unemployment law judge’s dismissal of her administrative appeal of two initial determinations. We conclude that the ULJ properly dismissed the administrative appeal because it was not filed within the 20-day appeal period. Therefore, we affirm.

A14-1594, Samuel I. Ricci, Relator, vs. Schmitty & Sons School Buses, Inc., Respondent, Department of Employment and Economic Development, Respondent.

Relator Samuel Ricci challenges the unemployment-law judge’s decision that he was ineligible for unemployment benefits because he was not available for or actively seeking suitable employment from May 11, 2014 through June 30, 2014. The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (the department) contends that the unemployment-law judge’s ineligibility determination should be affirmed as to the week beginning May 11, 2014, but concedes that the judge should be reversed as to the period from May 18, 2014 through June 30, 2014. Respondent Schmitty & Sons School Buses, Inc. advised this court that it would not be filing a brief, although it believes that the judge’s decision should be affirmed. Because Ricci was available for and actively seeking suitable employment from May 11, 2014 through June 30, 2014, we reverse the denial of benefits.

A14-0647, Michael Mudek, Relator, vs. Redtail Management, Inc. – Billy’s Bar & Grill at Breezy Point, Respondent, Department of Employment and Economic Development, Respondent.

We affirm the determination of the unemployment law judge (ULJ) that relator is ineligible for unemployment benefits because the record substantially supports the ULJ’s factual finding that relator quit without good reason caused by the employer.  Mudek argues that he quit because his employer reduced his hours from an average of 30 per week to four per week in response to a seasonal decline in business. In contrast, the ULJ found that Mudek quit because his campground was closing and he planned to move. The ULJ’s finding is supported by the record. Mudek testified that he planned to leave his employment after the campground shut down for the winter because he could no longer remain there and wanted to move. He requested only seasonal work in accordance with his plan to move in the fall.  Accordingly, there is substantial support in the record for the ULJ’s finding that Mudek quit to move and not because his hours were reduced.


If you are denied unemployment benefits, or are an employer who wants to challenge a former employee's eligibility for benefits, your best bet is to meet with an attorney who handles unemployment appeals to discuss your options.  To that end, I represent both applicants and employers in unemployment appeals.  Please call (763) 450-9494 today to set up an appointment to discuss your situation.

WARNING: The information contained in this blog post does not constitute legal advice and may not be applicable to your situation.  Reading this blog post does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Baland Law Office, P.L.L.C.  Also, Tim is licensed only in state and federal courts in Minnesota.  As such, any information provided in this blog post pertains only to those jurisdictions.  Further, you should always discuss your situation with an attorney before taking any action based on what you may read in this blog.  To that end, please call (763) 450-9494 to set up an appointment to discuss your situation. 

 
 
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The Minnesota Supreme Court issued one decision on attorney discipline and ethics this week.  The decision involves the voluntary disbarment of an attorney who lied in a criminal investigation.  Here is the summary:

 A15-0137, In re Petition for Disciplinary Action against Patrick J. Nolan, III, a Minnesota Attorney, Registration No. 121307.


The Director of the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility filed a petition for disciplinary action alleging that respondent Patrick J. Nolan, III, committed professional misconduct warranting public discipline, namely, being convicted of a felony for making a false statement to United States Postal Inspection Service agents during the course of a criminal investigation, in violation of Minn. R. Prof. Conduct 8.4(b) and 8.4(c).  The attorney admitted that the conduct violated the Rules of Professional Conduct, and agreed to an indefinite suspension with no right to petition for reinstatement for three years, and the Minnesota Supreme Court imposed that discipline.

Tim represents attorneys facing professional discipline, and consults with attorneys about whether a particular situation or proposed course of conduct implicates the Rules of Professional Conduct.  When faced with a situation that may implicate the Rules of Professional Conduct, Tim always recommends that an attorney seek an advisory opinion from the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility. 

WARNING: The information contained in this blog post does not constitute legal advice and may not be applicable to your situation.  Reading this blog post does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Baland Law Office, P.L.L.C.  Also, Tim is licensed only in state and federal courts in Minnesota.  As such, any information provided in this blog post pertains only to those jurisdictions.  Further, you should always discuss your situation with an attorney before taking any action based on what you may read in this blog.  To that end, please call (763) 450-9494 to set up an appointment to discuss your situation.

 
 
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The Minnesota Court of Appeals issued one decision this week on unemployment benefits.  The decision underscores the rule that employment misconduct renders an otherwise eligible applicant ineligible for unemployment benefits.  Here is the summary:

A14-0947, Melissa Jungen, Relator, vs. Sanders, Inc., Respondent, Department of Employment and Economic Development, Respondent.

In this certiorari appeal, relator challenges the decision of an unemployment-law judge (ULJ) denying her unemployment benefits on the ground that she was discharged for employment misconduct -- a violation of the standards of behavior that an employer has the right to reasonably expect.. Because the ULJ did not err by determining that relator’s conduct of improper cell-phone use, poor attendance, and insubordination met the statutory standard for employment misconduct, thus rendering her ineligible for benefits, we affirm.

If you are denied unemployment benefits, or are an employer who wants to challenge a former employee's eligibility for benefits, your best bet is to meet with an attorney who handles unemployment appeals to discuss your options.  To that end, I represent both applicants and employers in unemployment appeals.  Please call (763) 450-9494 today to set up an appointment to discuss your situation.

WARNING: The information contained in this blog post does not constitute legal advice and may not be applicable to your situation.  Reading this blog post does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Baland Law Office, P.L.L.C.  Also, Tim is licensed only in state and federal courts in Minnesota.  As such, any information provided in this blog post pertains only to those jurisdictions.  Further, you should always discuss your situation with an attorney before taking any action based on what you may read in this blog.  To that end, please call (763) 450-9494 to set up an appointment to discuss your situation. 

 
 
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There were two decisions this week on unemployment benefits from the Minnesota Court of Appeals.  Both cases highlight the rule that employment misconduct will make an applicant who is otherwise eligible for unemployment benefits ineligible for those benefits.

1. A14-1139, Kelly Smith, Relator, vs. Hoff Diamonds and Gems, Inc., Respondent, Department of Employment and Economic Development, Respondent.

This certiorari appeal is from an unemployment-law judge’s decision that relator is ineligible for unemployment benefits because he was discharged from his employment for employment misconduct.  The misconduct in this case was an inability to get along with coworkers and using profanity on at least two occasions.  The employer  had a right to reasonably expect that relator would not use profane language while speaking with his coworkers in the workplace. Relator’s repeated use of profanity was a serious violation of this standard of behavior, and it clearly displayed a substantial lack of concern for his employment.  As such, the decision denying unemployment benefits was affirmed.

2. A14-0729, Jean M. Ritter, Relator, vs. Inter City Oil Co., Inc., Respondent, Department of Employment and Economic Development, Respondent.

Relator challenges an unemployment-law judge’s decision that relator is ineligible for unemployment benefits because she was terminated from employment for misconduct. Relator argues that the conduct that led to her termination from employment was a single incident and that the employer’s evidence was not credible.  In this case, the ULJ found that relator repeatedly made disparaging remarks about the supervisor and that she was repeatedly instructed not to do so.

The employer’s directives to relator that she could not continue to engage in unprofessional behavior and name-calling were reasonable, and the employer had the right to reasonably expect relator to follow the directives. Relator’s repeated failures to follow the directives were employment misconduct.   Accordingly, the decision denying unemployment benefits was affirmed.

If you are denied unemployment benefits, or are an employer who wants to challenge a former employee's eligibility for benefits, your best bet is to meet with an attorney who handles unemployment appeals to discuss your options.  To that end, I represent both applicants and employers in unemployment appeals.  Please call (763) 450-9494 today to set up an appointment to discuss your situation.

WARNING: The information contained in this blog post does not constitute legal advice and may not be applicable to your situation.  Reading this blog post does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Baland Law Office, P.L.L.C.  Also, Tim is licensed only in state and federal courts in Minnesota.  As such, any information provided in this blog post pertains only to those jurisdictions.  Further, you should always discuss your situation with an attorney before taking any action based on what you may read in this blog.  To that end, please call (763) 450-9494 to set up an appointment to discuss your situation.