Michael D. Goodwin, Appellant-Plaintiff,
David L. DeBoer, Appellee-Defendant.
from the Lake Superior Court Trial Court Cause No.
45D02-1709-CT-88 The Honorable Calvin D. Hawkins, Judge
Attorney for Appellant Carrie Castro Law Office of Carrie
Castro Merrillville, Indiana
Attorneys for Appellee David C. Jensen Robert J. Feldt
Eichhorn & Eichhorn, LLP Hammond, Indiana
of the Case
Michael D. Goodwin sued his former attorney David L. DeBoer
for legal malpractice, breach of fiduciary duty, and
fraudulent concealment after Goodwin pleaded guilty in a
federal criminal cause of action in which DeBoer, along with
two other attorneys, had represented Goodwin. The essence of
Goodwin's civil claims against DeBoer are that, had
DeBoer rendered competent representation to Goodwin in the
federal action, Goodwin would not have pleaded guilty. But,
after an evidentiary hearing before the federal district
court in a post-conviction proceeding, the court rejected the
factual and legal issues that Goodwin now relies on to
support his theory that he would not have pleaded guilty had
DeBoer acted differently. Accordingly, as a matter of law
Goodwin is precluded from now arguing that DeBoer's
alleged malpractice proximately caused Goodwin to plead
guilty. As such, we affirm the trial court's entry of
summary judgment for DeBoer.
and Procedural History
In 2011, Goodwin hired Indiana attorneys Clark W. Holesinger
and DeBoer and Texas attorney William E. Kelly III to
represent him in a federal criminal action for alleged
Medicaid fraud in Texas. In May of 2012, Holesinger and
DeBoer retained a Medicaid expert, Christine Miller, who
authored a draft report on Goodwin's alleged fraud.
In December, Goodwin entered into a written plea agreement
with the United States. Pursuant to his plea agreement,
Goodwin agreed to plead guilty to one count of health care
fraud, and, in exchange, the United States dismissed eleven
other counts. At a hearing on Goodwin's guilty plea,
Goodwin acknowledged as true a "factual resume"
that established a factual basis for the offense.
Appellant's App. Vol. 3 at 126-31, 177. On several
occasions, the court asked Goodwin if he had reviewed his
plea agreement and decision to plead guilty with his
attorneys. Goodwin repeatedly affirmed that he had done so.
With respect to the factual resume in particular, Goodwin
stated that he had "gone over it completely" with
his attorneys "[m]any times." Id. at
177-78. The court entered its judgment of conviction against
Goodwin and sentenced him to fifty months with the Federal
Bureau of Prisons.
Thereafter, in April of 2014 the Porter County Prosecutor
alleged that Holesinger "stole approximately $380,
000.00 from Dr. Michael Goodwin and his wife . . . during the
time he represented Dr. Goodwin for Medicaid fraud."
Appellant's App. Vol. 12 at 76. Holesinger surrendered
his Indiana law license and pleaded guilty to several federal
and state crimes. However, despite the Porter County
Prosecutor's allegation, none of Holesinger's
convictions directly related to funds allegedly stolen from
Shortly after learning of Holesinger's conduct, Goodwin
moved to have the district court set aside his guilty plea on
the basis that Holesinger had rendered ineffective
assistance, which motion Goodwin later amended. In relevant
part, Goodwin's amended motion argued that Holesinger had
advised him to plead guilty, and Goodwin had acted on that
advice, while Holesinger "was burdened by an actual
conflict of interest . . . due to his theft of approximately
[$380, 000] from Goodwin during his representation . . .
." Appellant's App. Vol. 11 at 135. Goodwin further
alleged that Holesinger's advice was ineffective because
Holesinger had "concealed the Miller Report" from
Goodwin, which Goodwin argued was "favorable and
necessary for Goodwin's defense." Id. at
142-43. In other words, Goodwin argued that, had he known of
Holesinger's conduct and/or the Miller report, he would
not have pleaded guilty. See Appellant's App.
Vol. 12 at 122.
The district court set a hearing date on Goodwin's
amended motion. Ten days before that hearing, in June of
2016, DeBoer sent to Goodwin's wife a draft statement for
the court on Goodwin's behalf, which statement
Goodwin's wife "immediately" surrendered to
Goodwin's acting counsel. Id. at 96-97. In that
statement, DeBoer said:
It seems almost [a] foregone conclusion to me that if Clark
Holesinger was stealing from Michael Goodwin while
representing him in the Medicaid case, Goodwin did not have
the benefit of appropriate[, ] competent representation.
Did Holesinger steal from Goodwin? In my opinion, it is far
more probable than not that he did.
I come to that conclusion by recalling my observations of
Holesinger during the months I helped him with the Goodwin
case. The nature of the federal Medicaid fraud case meant not
only did [Goodwin] face criminal penalties for [the] alleged
violations, he also was at risk to lose all or a large part
of his substantial net worth. Bank accounts were frozen, real
estate was attached. During visits to his office, I overheard
Holesinger's portion of phone conversations cutting deals
with bankers in charge of Goodwin's holdings. There was
also a stylish RV that was pursued by the government. I
believe Holesinger sold this for cash . . . before it was
[Holesinger] appeared more motivated and energized to work on
the civil/financial aspects of the government's case than