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Attorney’s license suspended for taking client’s settlement

The state’s Supreme Court has suspended a Madison attorney’s license for 60 days.

David Bartz has been licensed to practice law in Wisconsin since 1989. He graduated from Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University. According to court documents, he was privately reprimanded in 1999 for inadequately preparing to represent a client. His icense to practice law was suspended in 2011 for failing to pay State Bar dues and file a trust account certification, and his license remains suspended for failing to complete continuing education requirements and failing to cooperate with two OLR investigations.

Thursday’s discipline stems from a Dec. 18 OLR complaint that alleges six counts of misconduct arising from Bartz writing checks to himself and emptying a personal injury client’s trust account.

According to Thursday’s decision, P.M. hired Bartz in 2009 to represent him in a personal injury lawsuit involving a car accident in which P.M. was injured. Bartz settled P.M.’s claim in 2010 for $5,021, but the settlement held that Bartz had to hold the money due to Walnut Grove Chiropractic., which treated P.M.’s injuries, while he tried to negotiate a lower payout.

After depositing the $5,021 into his account, Bartz paid P.M. $995 and himself $755. Walnut Grove agreed to accept $2,191 to settle P.M.’s bill, but Bartz never paid. In the span of a month, Bartz allegedly wrote six trust account checks to himself, leaving no more money in the account for Walnut Grove or P.M. Yet, he told P.M. in October 2011 that he would pay Walnut Grove, according to documents.

Later in that month, Bartz’s license to practice law was suspended for failing to pay bar dues. He never told P.M. about the suspension. In  2012, P.M. filed a grievance with the OLR, which sent Bartz two letters requiring him to respond to the grievance. Bartz never responded, so the OLR asked the high court to temporarily suspend his license. The justices granted the request.

According to the agency’s complaint, the OLR had asked the court to suspend Bartz’s license for 60 days and pay more than $1,000 to the client and more than $2,100 to the Wisconsin Lawyers’ Fund for Client Protection. The justices agreed, ordering Bartz on Thursday to pay the restitution and suspending his license for 60 days.

Bartz could not be immediately reached Thursday at the number listed with both the State Bar and the OLR.


About Erika Strebel, [email protected]

Erika Strebel is the law beat reporter for the Wisconsin Law Journal and a law school student at UW-Madison. She can be reached at 414-225-1825.

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