In the Matter of Eric Reed Martin, Respondent Appellate Case No. 2014-001411.
Heard September 10, 2014
Lesley M. Coggiola, Disciplinary Counsel, and William C. Campbell, Assistant Disciplinary Counsel, both of Columbia, for Office of Disciplinary Counsel.
Eric Reed Martin, of Columbia, Pro se.
TOAL, C.J., PLEICONES, BEATTY, KITTREDGE and HEARN, JJ., concur.
In this attorney disciplinary matter, respondent and the Office of Disciplinary Counsel have entered into an Agreement for Discipline by Consent (Agreement) pursuant to Rule 21 of the Rules for Lawyer Disciplinary Enforcement (RLDE) contained in Rule 413 of the South Carolina Appellate Court Rules (SCACR). In the Agreement, respondent admits misconduct and consents to the imposition of any sanction set forth in Rule (7)(b), RLDE. Respondent further agrees to pay the costs incurred in the investigation and prosecution of this matter by ODC and the Commission on Lawyer Conduct (the Commission) within thirty (30) days of the imposition of discipline and to complete the Legal Ethics and Practice Program Ethics School, Trust Account School, and Advertising School within six (6) months of reinstatement. We accept the Agreement and suspend respondent from the practice of law in this state for six (6) months. We further order respondent to pay the costs incurred by ODC and the Commission in the investigation and prosecution of this matter within thirty (30) days, and, in the event he is reinstated to the practice of law, that he complete the Legal Ethics and Practice Program Ethics School, Trust Account School, and Advertising School within six (6) months of reinstatement. In addition, should respondent seek reinstatement, his Petition for Reinstatement shall be submitted to the Committee on Character and Fitness for consideration and submission of a Report and Recommendation. The facts, as set forth in the Agreement, are as follows.
In 2006, Complainants purchased a home relying on the representations of the loan officer that they could refinance the loan after five months to obtain lower monthly payments. Complainants found that they were unable to refinance the loan at five months and would have to wait until the loan was a
[410 S.C. 156] year old. When Complainants attempted to refinance the home after
the year passed, they learned the home would not appraise at an amount that
would permit the refinance. Complainants could not afford to continue to make
the current mortgage payments and became delinquent. Complainants retained
respondent in January 2008 to bring an action on their claims regarding the
of the loan officer concerning Complainants'
ability to refinance the loan.
In May 2008, foreclosure proceedings were initiated against Complainants and respondent gave notice to the mortgage company regarding modification of the mortgage in September 2008. Complainants understood respondent was to defend them in the foreclosure action. Respondent was to file an answer with counterclaims and a third party complaint based on the representations of the loan officer that they would be able to refinance the loan to a lower payment.
Respondent agreed to handle the case on a contingency fee basis. Respondent acknowledges he did not comply with Rule 1.5, RPC, Rule 407, SCACR, in that he did not have a written fee agreement for his representation.
Respondent states he initially communicated with Complainants regarding actions such as a deed in lieu of foreclosure or a short sale to deal with the property. Respondent prepared an answer, counterclaims, and a third party complaint which were served on counsel for the foreclosing plaintiff. Respondent admits he did not effectuate correct service of the third party complaint on the defendant. He further admits that he failed to properly file the answer with the associated counterclaims and third party complaint with the Clerk of Court. Respondent admits that as the direct result of his failure to properly file and serve the answer, counterclaims, and third party complaint, Complainants did not have a pending legal action.
Complainants were able to resolve the foreclosure portion of the case by selling the property at a short sale in 2010. After the sale of the property, the ...