Raymore attorney disbarred after allegedly misappropriating settlement of client who committed suicide

By Karen Kidd | Jun 18, 2018

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (St. Louis Record) — Raymore attorney Robert E. Arnold III has been disbarred following a June 12 Missouri Supreme Court order over allegations he misappropriated a client's $25,000 personal injury settlement.

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (St. Louis Record) — Raymore attorney Robert E. Arnold III has been disbarred following a June 12 Missouri Supreme Court order over allegations he misappropriated a client's $25,000 personal injury settlement.

The state Supreme Court found Arnold violated five professional conduct rules, including those regarding fees, confidentiality of information, safekeeping property and misconduct, according to the court's order.  The court found that Arnold violated five rules of ethical conduct related to misappropriating a client’s $25,000 personal injury settlement.

The court also ordered Arnold to pay a fee of $2,000 to the credit of the Advisory Committee Fund, in addition to call costs in the matter.

Arnold, a domestic law attorney, was admitted the Missouri Supreme Court on Jan. 1, 1995, following his graduation from Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, according to his profile at the Johnson County Bar Association's website.

Allegations against Arnold stemmed from his representation of a former client in a child custody and support case and in a personal injury claim, according to Arnold's brief and that of the chief disciplinary counsel, both filed with the state high court. Arnold was paid a retainer and was promised 33 percent of settlement, in addition to expenses, according to those briefs.

Arnold settled the personal injury claim for $25,000 in June 2012 and deposited the check into his client trust account. The following month Arnold transferred the funds from the client's trust account to his law firm's operating account.

In her complaint, the client said she never received information about the settlement, though she repeatedly requested information from Arnold, and she threatened to sue Arnold when she found out he had kept the entire amount. 

Arnold filed an attorney lien against the client, alleging she still owed him nearly $16,700 but the client consequently received a court award in July 2014 for $8,275 to the client, $6,350 to the client's health care providers and $10,370 to Arnold.

The client committed suicide in September 2014.  

The office of the chief disciplinary counsel began disciplinary proceedings against Arnold, alleging Arnold violated court rules, including misappropriation of trust funds, dishonesty, keeping inadequate records, collecting an unreasonable fee and revealing information without his client's consent.

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