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Suspended attorney faces 7 counts of misconduct

A suspended Wisconsin attorney who moved to Florida now faces disciplinary action for allegedly mishandling client money and ignoring requests for information from both her clients and investigators.

Pamela Smoler faces seven counts of misconduct stemming from her handling of two clients who hired her to litigate medical malpractice claims, according to a complaint filed April 11 by the Office of Lawyer Regulation.

The OLR is asking the state Supreme Court to suspend Smoler for nine months. If the court imposes that discipline, Smoler will have to petition the justices to be reinstated.

Smoler’s license was suspended in July 2011 for not cooperating with an OLR investigation. According to the complaint, she also is behind on her State Bar dues and continuing legal education credits.

She graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 1988 and lived in Monona before moving to Fort Myers, Fla., according to the complaint. However, she is not licensed to practice law in that state, according to The Florida Bar’s website.

When contacted, Smoler did not immediately provide a response to the OLR’s allegations.

In one instance, Smoler, who filed for bankruptcy in October 2010, took a $50,000 loan from Dennis and Karen Suchomel, two clients she represented in a successful lawsuit against the University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics, according to the OLR’s complaint. The loan was to be used for litigation for another client, Cindy Jones, for another claim against the University of Wisconsin hospital system.

However, the OLR alleges Smoler “did not advise the Suchomels in writing of the desirability of seeking the advice of independent counsel” before they agreed to the loan.

The Suchomels gave Smoler the loan in 2005 and Smoler had not paid any of it back by 2009, according to the complaint. They then filed a grievance against Smoler.

In a letter to the OLR, Smoler apologized for not paying back the loan and said, “her representation of plaintiffs on a contingent fee basis had resulted in financial disaster for both her clients and herself.” She wrote that she didn’t feel that she had violated any state Supreme Court rules, however, according to the complaint.

When the OLR asked for information pertaining to the Suchomels’ grievance, Smoler told the agency she would send it but never did, according to the complaint.

The OLR also alleges Jones and her family gave Smoler $50,000 to work on her case, but that money was never deposited into the client’s trust account. According to the complaint, Smoler also ignored Jones’ request for information and did not turn over the files when Jones terminated representation.

When Jones filed an OLR grievance, Smoler did not respond to requests for information, according to the complaint.

About Eric Heisig

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