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Walworth County lawyer wants OLR complaint dismissed, points finger at successor counsel

An East Troy lawyer facing a 60-day suspension over six charges of misconduct wants the Wisconsin Supreme Court to dismiss the charges and instead suggested that lawyer-regulators investigate a lawyer a client had hired to replace him.

The allegations stem from a complaint the Office of Lawyer Regulation filed on March 22, charging Patrick Hudec with six counts of misconduct stemming from cases he handled in Walworth and Waukesha counties.

Hudec, who is representing himself, filed an answer to those charges on Nov. 20 and denied that he had committed all six counts of misconduct. He is asking for the OLR’s complaint to be dismissed.

The OLR had alleged that Hudec failed to enter a written agreement with a woman who had hired him to be counsel to the personal representative of a Walworth County woman’s estate, failed to object to a claim against the estate and failed to keep his client reasonably informed about the case.

In his answer, Hudec contended that the claim was filed during a time frame in which he had a heart attack and four subsequent surgeries. He argued the failure to object was moot because the estate had been fully litigated and all the parties knew that the estate objected to the claim.

The OLR had also alleged that in a Waukesha County defamation case, Hudec had failed to comply with the opposing party’s discovery requests, failed to reply to the opposing party’s counterclaim and failed to keep the client informed of what was happening in the case. The clients’ claims were dismissed and the client paid a settlement to the opposing party for default judgment on the counterclaim Hudec caused.

That client eventually filed a lawsuit against Hudec to recover payments she had made to him and other damages she alleges he had caused.

Hudec, in the answer he filed, contended, among other things, that the lawyer who eventually replaced him in representing the client in the defamation case had been the one that violated the attorney ethics rules by failing to negotiate the related settlement and filing a reimbursement motion against Hudec for the default-judgment payments the client had made even though that claim had to be brought in a separate lawsuit.

Hudec is representing himself. The court in April appointed Rick Esenberg to preside as referee in the case.

A hearing before Esenberg had been scheduled to start next week but has been rescheduled for April 9, said William Weigel, OLR Litigation Counsel.

After the hearing, Esenberg will make findings of fact and recommendations to the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

Hudec will have an opportunity to appeal those findings and recommendations. Ultimately, the Wisconsin Supreme Court will review Esenberg’s findings and issue a final decision in the matter.


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