In the Matter of Disciplinary Proceedings Against Tiffany T. Luther, Attorney at Law:
Tiffany T. Luther, Respondent. Office of Lawyer Regulation, Complainant,
disciplinary proceeding. Attorney publicly reprimanded.
We review the report and recommendation of Referee Jonathan
V. Goodman, approving a stipulation filed by the Office of
Lawyer Regulation (OLR) and Attorney Tiffany T. Luther and
concluding that Attorney Luther committed the professional
misconduct alleged by the OLR, as stipulated by the parties.
The referee determined that a public reprimand of Attorney
Luther's license to practice law is appropriate.
Upon careful review of this matter, we uphold the
referee's findings of fact and conclusions of law and
agree that a public reprimand is an appropriate sanction for
Attorney Luther's misconduct. We also find it appropriate
to impose the full costs of this proceeding, which are $7,
414.04 as of July 18, 2017. The OLR has confirmed that
Attorney Luther paid restitution and that no additional
restitution order is warranted.
Attorney Luther was admitted to the practice of law in
Wisconsin on January 19, 2000 as Tiffany T. Stockinger. She
practiced in Green Bay, but now lives in Las Vegas, Nevada.
She has not previously been the subject of professional
The facts giving rise to this proceeding stem from Attorney
Luther's involvement with Morgan Drexen, Inc. (MDI), a
now defunct debt settlement company.
In June 2009, MDI and Attorney Luther agreed that she would
serve as "engagement counsel" for MDI in Wisconsin.
Attorney Luther was the attorney providing services to
Wisconsin residents in MDI's program.
In August 2012, M.M. contacted MDI for assistance paying her
debts so she could avoid bankruptcy. She had approximately
$14, 000 in debts, including amounts owed to GE Capital
Retail Bank (GE Capital) . MDI offered to help M.M. pay her
debts in three years if she paid MDI $100, followed by $185
per month. Under this plan, M.M.'s payments would not be
used to pay off her debts until they covered MDI's
engagement fee of $1, 295, plus 20 percent of M.M.'s
debt. Before M.M. enrolled in MDI's plan, the company
read her disclosures that Attorney Luther had approved. These
disclosures did not adequately inform M.M. that it was
unlikely the proposed plan could pay her debts. M.M.
completed the MDI forms online, including two fee agreements
with Attorney Luther. Attorney Luther's agreements with
M.M. also charged her $50 per month for various services such
as review of a document, a simple will, responding to email,
and file maintenance. M.M. was charged for these services
even if she did not use them. Attorney Luther had no contact
with M.M. prior to M.M. signing the fee agreements. Attorney
Luther was aware of MDI's practices, and that her client
M.M. was using MDI's system. Attorney Luther did not give
M.M. information reasonably necessary for her to understand
the material advantages and disadvantages of MDI's plan
or discuss with M.M. options and alternatives to it. MDI and
Attorney Luther's letters to M.M. were form letters that
provided little substantive information.
In August 2012, MDI started automated monthly withdrawals
from M.M.'s checking account. MDI sent M.M.'s
creditors form letters notifying them of Attorney
Luther's representation and requested all correspondence
should be sent to Attorney Luther, via MDI. MDI did not send
copies of these letters to M.M.
In November 2012, GE Capital's attorneys sent Attorney
Luther, through MDI, a letter informing her that M.M.'s
account was in default. The letter offered to cure M.M.'s
default for $716 by December 21, 2012. Neither Attorney
Luther nor MDI gave a copy of this letter to M.M. or informed
her of this offer at the time.
On February 14, 2013, GE Capital filed a small claims suit
against M.M. In April 2013, M.M. received the summons and
complaint in the GE Capital lawsuit, and notice of a May 13,
2013 hearing. She contacted MDI. MDI informed her that
because she had not yet covered the engagement fee, it had
taken no action to resolve her debts. As of April 22, 2013,
M.M. had paid MDI and Attorney Luther $1, 665.
MDI showed that M.M.'s account with them had a balance of
-$115. MDI directed M.M. to contact Attorney Luther for
advice about the lawsuit and sent her a limited scope
representation agreement for that purpose.
Attorney Luther's limited scope representation agreement
charged M.M. $550 for her assistance with M.M.'s
self-representation in the GE Capital case. It also listed
various charges M.M. would incur, such as $65 for a
"Phone Consult with Counsel." M.M. signed the
agreement, and on April 23, 2013, spoke with Attorney Luther
on the phone. Attorney Luther told M.M. that she would not
appear in court for a May 13, 2013 hearing, or otherwise
represent her in the matter. Attorney Luther advised M.M. to
request a 90-day extension by which time she would have
enough funds in her MDI account to pay Attorney Luther's
fee and file for bankruptcy. Attorney Luther charged M.M. $35
for this conversation as a "rush job."
On or about April 30, 2013, M.M. spoke with MDI. MDI recorded
her agreement to file for bankruptcy. In May 2013, Attorney
Luther and MDI sent M.M. two letters informing her that they
had not received either the necessary paperwork or fee to
proceed with bankruptcy.
On May 13, 2013, M.M. appeared at the GE Capital small claims
hearing, pro se. In May 2013, M.M. consulted another attorney
and also closed her checking account to stop the automated
payments to MDI.
On May 31, 2013, M.M.'s new attorney wrote to MDI, asking
it stop the automated withdrawals and requesting a refund
from MDI and Attorney Luther.
On June 23, 2013, M.M. filed a grievance against MDI and
Attorney Luther with DFI. In July 2013, M.M.'s new
attorney filed a Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition for M.M., and
on August 9, 2013, GE Capital dismissed its small claims
action against M.M.
On October 18, 2013, the bankruptcy court discharged
M.M.'s debts, including those included in MDI's debt
In November 2013, DFI forwarded M.M.'s grievance to the
OLR, which commenced an investigation. This disciplinary
proceeding ensued. In January 2014, Attorney Luther refunded
$800 to M.M.
The remaining counts of misconduct involve Attorney
Luther's representation of J.B. on behalf of MDI. In
January 2013, in response to a television advertisement, J.B.
sought assistance consolidating approximately $22, 000 in
debt. MDI offered J.B. a plan to assist with his debts if he
paid MDI $260 per month. J.B.'s payments would not be
used to pay off his debts until they covered MDI's
engagement fee of $1, 750, plus 20 percent of J.B.'s
Before J.B. enrolled in MDI's plan, the company read him
disclosures that Attorney Luther had approved. These
disclosures did not adequately inform J.B. that it was
unlikely that the proposed plan could pay his debts. J.B.
completed MDI forms online, including two fee agreements with
Attorney Luther. Attorney Luther's agreements with J.B.
charged him $50 per month for various services such as review
of a document, a simple will, responding to email, and file
maintenance. MDI charged J.B. for these services, even if he
did not use them.
Attorney Luther had no contact with J.B. prior to J.B.
signing the fee agreements. Attorney Luther was aware of
MDI's practices, and that her client J.B. was using
MDI's system. Attorney Luther did not give J.B.
information reasonably necessary for him to understand the
material advantages and disadvantages of MDI's plan, nor
did she discuss alternatives to it.
On January 28, 2013, Attorney Luther called J.B. to welcome
him to the MDI program. This was their only personal contact
during the representation. In January 2013, MDI started
automated monthly account withdrawals from J.B.'s
In March 2013, MDI sent J.B.'s creditors form letters
notifying them of Attorney Luther's representation and
requested all correspondence should be sent to Attorney