In the Matter of: Douglas L. Krasnoff,
Discipline Action Hearing Officer Timothy W. Oakes.
RESPONDENT PRO SE Douglas L. Krasnoff Indianapolis, Indiana.
ATTORNEYS FOR THE INDIANA SUPREME COURT DISCIPLINARY
COMMISSION G. Michael Witte, Executive Director Angie Ordway,
Staff Attorney Indianapolis, Indiana.
that Respondent, Douglas Krasnoff, committed attorney
misconduct by practicing law while suspended, charging an
unreasonable fee, improperly modifying a fee agreement, and
failing to respond to the Commission's demand for
information. For this misconduct, we conclude that Respondent
should be suspended for at least 180 days without automatic
matter is before the Court on the report of the hearing
officer appointed by this Court to hear evidence on the
Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission's
"Verified Complaint for Disciplinary Action, " and
on the post-hearing briefing by the parties. Respondent's
1997 admission to this state's bar subjects him to this
Court's disciplinary jurisdiction. See Ind.
Const, art. 7, § 4.
Background and Facts
Commission filed a two-count "Verified Complaint for
Disciplinary Action" against Respondent on August 8,
2013, and we appointed a hearing officer. Respondent's
answer was untimely, prompting the Commission to seek and the
hearing officer to grant judgment on the complaint. In an
order issued September 2, 2014, we reversed the judgment on
the complaint and referred the case back to the hearing
officer for further proceedings. A hearing was held over
several dates in March 2016, and the hearing officer issued
his report on January 24, 2017.
1. Respondent was suspended in Indiana for CLE
noncompliance, effective May 12, 2002, and thereafter the
United States District Court for the Southern District of
Indiana ("District Court") reciprocally suspended
Respondent. Respondent was reinstated in both jurisdictions
effective December 31, 2002.
November 2001, "Client" retained Respondent to
represent him in pursuing a claim against his employer,
General Motors Corporation ("First GM Case"). The
fee agreement provided that Client pay Respondent $10, 000 as
a retainer fee/fixed fee. The agreement also called for
Client to pay Respondent 40% of any recovery as a
"contingent fee bonus, " to which the retainer
fee/fixed fee would be credited. Client paid Respondent $6,
000. When the case settled in March 2006 for $3, 000,
Respondent kept the entire amount (for a total of $9, 000),
leaving Client owing $1, 000 to Respondent.
April 2002, Client retained Respondent to represent him in a
second claim against GM under the Family and Medical Leave
Act ("Second GM Case"). The fee agreement provided
that Client pay Respondent $5, 000 as a "retainer
fee/fixed fee, " which Client paid in full. The
agreement also called for Client to pay Respondent 33% or 40%
of any recovery (depending on whether the case went to trial)
as a "contingent fee bonus, " to which the retainer
fee/fixed fee would be credited. Respondent filed suit in
state court on behalf of Client on October 2, 2002, in
violation of his state CLE suspension. The case was removed
to the District Court in November 2002. On December 12, 2002,
Respondent filed two motions in the District Court, in
violation of his federal reciprocal suspension.
addition to the amounts described above, Respondent charged
Client $10, 000 to take an "appeal from a Magistrate
Order to the District Judge" ("Appeal Fee").
Respondent also charged Client $8, 000 "to add claims to
his lawsuit" ("Additional Fee"), but
Respondent only belatedly attempted to add these claims to
the lawsuit, was denied leave to add them, and eventually
released these claims against Client's wishes.
the Second GM Case settled for $30, 000 in 2007, Respondent
had Client sign a "Settlement Agreement" that
provided Respondent would receive $20, 000 in attorney fees
and Client would receive $10, 000. The $5, 000 retainer
Client had paid was not credited to him. Respondent did not
advise Client in writing of the desirability of seeking the
advice of independent counsel regarding the modification or
give Client a reasonable opportunity to do so before Client
signed the Settlement Agreement.
received $20, 000 from GM according to the Settlement Agreement,
bringing the total fees he collected for the representation
in the Second GM Case to at least $43, 000. Client, however,
has never ...