St. Louis Record

Friday, September 20, 2019

Jefferson City attorney suspended indefinitely following loss of employment discrimination case

By Karen Kidd | Apr 6, 2018

JEFFERSON CITY (St. Louis Record) — Jefferson City attorney Jonathan D. McDowell has been suspended indefinitely following an April 3 Missouri Supreme Court order over allegations that his failure to timely file in state court cost an airline pilot his employment discrimination case.

Following oral arguments March 15, the state Supreme Court handed down the suspension with no leave to apply for reinstatement until after one year, according to the high court's order. The court also ordered McDowell to pay $1,000 in fees.

McDowell was admitted to the Missouri Bar on Sept. 15, 2010, according to the office of chief disciplinary counsel's brief.

Allegations against McDowell stemmed from counsel he provided to an airline pilot in a discrimination lawsuit filed in 2012 against the pilot's union and former employer, according to separate briefs filed matter by the office of chief disciplinary counsel and McDowell. Among other accusations, McDowell was alleged to have filed the case in a federal court where he'd not yet applied for admission to practice law.

That court dismissed the pilot's claim against the airline in March 2015, ruling it had not been filed on time, and also dismissed the claim against the union a couple of months later. Two weeks later, McDowell abruptly left the Springfield law firm that had employed him. The replacement attorney "attempted to obtain a favorable outcome" for the pilot "but was unable to overcome a motion for summary judgment", the office of chief disciplinary counsel's brief said.

Had McDowell timely filed the pilot's claim in state court, "she would have been able to overcome a motion for summary judgment and would have had 'a pretty good shot' of winning the case," the office of chief disciplinary counsel's brief said

Last April an regional disciplinary hearing panel found McDowell in violation of professional conduct rules in reference to competent representation, diligence, communication, protecting a client's rights upon termination of representation and making a false statement to a tribunal. The panel recommended McDowell be suspended with leave to apply for reinstatement after six months.

Both McDowell and the chief disciplinary counsel objected to the panel's recommendation. McDowell disputed the panel's findings and fought any suspension while the chief disciplinary counsel pushed for suspension with leave to apply for reinstatement after two years.

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Organizations in this Story

Missouri Bar Missouri Supreme Court