The Wisconsin Office of Lawyer Regulation filed a complaint Tuesday alleging attorney Gerald Boyle committed six acts of misconduct, including mishandling clients’ fees and failing to timely file a lawsuit for a client.
Five of the six counts pertain to Boyle’s representation of a Waukesha man, David Petersen, in his quest to recoup money lost when he unknowingly purchased counterfeit Beatles memorabilia from three galleries.
According to the OLR’s complaint, Boyle, of Milwaukee’s Boyle, Boyle & Boyle SC, in November 2009 told Petersen he would handle the case for a flat fee of $25,000. He later went on to request additional money, and Petersen paid him three sums: $10,000, $35,000 and $20,000. All three payments allegedly were deposited into the firm’s operating account instead of a client trust account, according to the OLR.
According to the complaint, Boyle failed to communicate in writing the scope of the representation and basis of the fee.
Boyle further failed his client, according to the OLR, through his lack of momentum on the case. Early on in the representation, Boyle wrote letters to some of the galleries involved, but did not file a lawsuit as the client wished.
Frustrated by Boyle’s lack of activity on the case, Petersen moved to terminate representation in May 2010. Boyle then contacted Petersen, according to the complaint, and promised to handle the case more aggressively and bring in another attorney to help.
In June 2010, the statute of limitations expired on 10 of the 30 counterfeit Beatles items in question.
On July 2, 2010, Boyle filed suit in the Eastern District of Wisconsin for Petersen against one of the galleries for selling counterfeit memorabilia. Boyle did not file a lawsuit against two of the other galleries involved.
For weeks, Boyle failed to respond to Petersen regarding a subpoena for phone records the client needed to establish personal jurisdiction in the lawsuit.
Boyle’s daughter and colleague, Bridget Boyle, emailed Petersen in August to say she was working on the subpoena. Despite multiple promises to subpoena the records, court records state, Bridget Boyle did not do so.
Bridget Boyle has been the subject of several OLR investigations and in February asked to give up her law license.
In Petersen’s federal lawsuit, the court on Feb. 1, 2012, granted summary judgment to one of the insurance providers, finding no coverage for the claims against the gallery.
During this time, Petersen grew more frustrated with Gerald Boyle and sent multiple emails seeking information about the case. Boyle responded “minimally” and canceled various meetings Petersen attempted to schedule with him, according to the complaint.
Petersen filed a grievance with the OLR on April 12. Five violations of state Supreme Court rules were alleged regarding Boyle’s representation of Petersen and his failures to communicate, establish fee agreements and file timely lawsuits.
Gerald Boyle could not be immediately reached for comment Thursday. The March 4 OLR complaint alleges one other count of professional misconduct against him, this one in regard to Boyle’s client Robert Grintjes, who paid Boyle, Boyle & Boyle $19,000 to represent him. Grintjes filed a grievance with the OLR, but the agency’s investigation revealed only a potential violation of trust account rules, according to the complaint.
Previously, he has been privately reprimanded three times, the complaint states, for misconduct including failing to act diligently or to take action, and failing to to prepare a written fee agreement.