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In re Disciplinary Proceedings against Lunde

Supreme Court of Wisconsin

October 18, 2016

In the Matter of Disciplinary Proceedings Against Gregory M. Lunde, Attorney at Law:
v.
Gregory M. Lunde, Respondent. Office of Lawyer Regulation, Complainant,

         DISCIPLINARY PROCEEDINGS AGAINST LUNDE

         ATTORNEY disciplinary proceeding. Attorney's license suspended.

          PER CURIAM.

         ¶l We review the report and recommendation of Referee James G. Curtis approving a stipulation filed by the Office of Lawyer Regulation (OLR) and Attorney Gregory M. Lunde. In the stipulation, Attorney Lunde stipulated to the facts underlying five counts of misconduct alleged in the OLR's complaint and agreed that the referee could enter conclusions of law finding that Attorney Lunde violated the various Supreme Court Rules as set forth in the complaint. The parties jointly recommended that the appropriate sanction to be imposed is a 60-day suspension of Attorney Lunde's license to practice law in Wisconsin. The referee agreed that a 60-day suspension was appropriate.

         ¶2 After careful review of the matter, we uphold the referee's findings of fact and conclusions of law and agree that a 60-day suspension is an appropriate sanction. We further find it appropriate to impose the full costs of this proceeding, which are $1, 357.73 as of August 1, 2016, on Attorney Lunde.

         ¶3 Attorney Lunde was admitted to practice law in Wisconsin in 1981. He resides in Westby, Wisconsin. Effective April 12, 2016, Attorney Lunde ceased actively practicing law due to health reasons. He has no present intention to recommence the active practice of law.

         ¶4 Attorney Lunde's prior disciplinary history consists of a consensual public reprimand imposed by the OLR's predecessor, the Board of Attorneys Professional Responsibility (BAPR), for failing to provide competent representation to a client, failing to act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client, and failing to cooperate with BAPR's investigation. Public Reprimand of Gregory M. Lunde, 1992-3, (electronic copy available at https://compendium.wicourts.gov/app/raw/000297.html).

         ¶5 The OLR filed a complaint against Attorney Lunde on November 25, 2015. Attorney Lunde filed an answer on December 30, 2015. The referee was appointed on March 24, 2016. The parties' stipulation was filed on July 15, 2016.

         ¶6 According to the stipulation, on June 3, 2001, J.S., a single person and resident of rural Westby, Wisconsin, died intestate. J.S. was survived by two minor children, D.B., age 14, and Z.S., age 7. On or about June 9, 2001, Attorney Lunde met with James DelMedico (DelMedico), an officer of a bank, regarding the need to probate J.S.'s estate.

         ¶7 On January 30, 2002, Attorney Lunde filed an Application for Informal Administration of the estate, signed by DelMedico as the applicant, in Vernon County Circuit Court. The court issued letters appointing DelMedico personal representative of the estate on January 30, 2002. DelMedico contacted Attorney Lunde and requested that he serve as the attorney for the estate.

         ¶8 At the time of her death, J.S. was enrolled in a group life insurance plan sponsored by her employer, with insurance coverage issued by Metropolitan Life Insurance Company (Met Life) . J.S.'s minor children were entitled to equal shares in the death benefit payable under the Met Life plan.

         ¶9 On January 8, 2004, Attorney Lunde filed a petition and affidavit in the probate matter asking the court to issue an order directing Met Life to transfer the life insurance proceeds to his trust account. The circuit court granted the petition on January 12, 2004 and issued an order directing Met Life to release the funds to Attorney Lunde's trust account. The court's order required that the balance of funds received from Met Life, after payment of any outstanding debts, be retained in Attorney Lunde's trust account until further order of the court.

         ¶10 On November 18, 2004, Attorney Lunde sent a letter to the court saying that the J.S.'s estate had a credit balance of $12, 668.54 to be divided equally between J.S.'s minor children.

         ¶11 In 2012, after he was 18 years of age, Z.S. asked his aunt, S.D., to assist him in obtaining the funds to which he was entitled from his mother's estate. S.D. subsequently called Attorney Lunde's office twice during the week of July 23, 2012 and left messages with a secretary. S.D. left a third message on the office voicemail saying she was planning a trip to Viroqua on July 30. Attorney Lunde did not return the calls.

         ¶12 On the morning of July 30, 2012, S.D. spoke with the Register in Probate for Vernon County about Z.S's funds. While S.D. was present in the office, the Register in Probate called Attorney Lunde and told him that S.D. wanted to see him. Attorney Lunde said he did not have time and asked for ...


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