Clients of nine former Virginia attorneys received $71,130 in reimbursement in the most recent round of payments authorized by the Virginia State Bar Clients’ Protection Fund Board.
The board authorized the payments at its Jan. 27 meeting, providing reimbursement on 13 petitions.
The largest approved payment of $35,000 was issued to a previous client of former Richmond attorney David Brooks Hundley. Per the opinion of the CPF Board, Hundley failed to inform his client that he had settled the case without the client’s knowledge or consent. The board further stated Hundley forged the client’s name to the settlement check and did not disburse any of the settlement to the client. Hundley’s license was revoked by consent in 2020.
Three former clients of former Hampton attorney Kevin Peter Shea were awarded $15,000, $7,500 and $2,150, respectively. The $15,000 reimbursement represented a full reimbursement of fees after the CPF Board previously awarded half that amount. Per the CPF Board, new information provided on second review led to the increased recovery. The other two claims from former clients of Shea also were for unearned fees. Shea’s license was revoked in February 2022, five months before his death.
A former client of Jonathan Preston Fisher of Blacksburg received the fourth-largest individual reimbursement, after they were awarded a full reimbursement of $4,250 for unearned attorney’s fees. The board found that Fisher, whose license was revoked in 2021, failed to appear in court to represent the client and did no work on the client’s matter.
Two former clients of Paul Reddick Hedges of Chesapeake received $1,000 and $750, respectively, for partial reimbursements. In this case, the board determined Hedges did sufficient work to earn some of the fees paid by the clients before Hedges’ death. Two former clients of Raul Novo of Richmond also received reimbursements, totaling $1,500, for work left incomplete at the time of Novo’s death.
The remaining four petitions — all matters related to unearned fees — were paid to former clients of Robert Steven Pope, Herbert Lawrence Jackson, Charles James Swedish and Tina Tracy Neyhart. The petitioners received payments of $1,850, $1,000, $800 and $375, respectively.
Jackson and Swedish’s former clients received full reimbursements for advance fees paid, as both died before work was performed on their clients’ cases.
Per the board, Pope was designated as the escrow agent and charged with maintaining funds in escrow for the sale of a home, but misappropriated those funds and was not honest with the petitioner about why the funds could not be disbursed. Pope repaid most of the misappropriated funds but did not repay escrow fees, which the board found he was not entitled to. Pope’s license was revoked in 2021.
Neyhart’s former client was awarded a partial reimbursement stemming from a divorce matter. Neyhart was retained by the client for $750 to obtain a divorce, but Neyhart only obtained a separation agreement, rather than a final divorce. Neyhart’s license was revoked in 2022.
Created in 1976 by the Supreme Court of Virginia, the Clients’ Protection Fund reimburses clients who have suffered quantifiable losses from dishonest attorneys whose licenses have been suspended or revoked or from attorneys who have died and did not properly maintain client funds. Attorneys in Virginia pay an annual $5 fee to support the fund, which is not taxpayer funded.