An attorney based in Henning, Minn., has had his law license suspended for 60 days by the Minnesota Supreme Court.
The court took action against Richard Edward Bosse “after he failed to diligently represent and properly communicate with clients, entered into improper flat fee and availability fee agreements with clients, failed to safeguard the funds of clients, dishonestly entered into fee agreements with a client and then unreasonably charged that client for the same services under multiple fee agreements, failed to refund unearned fees to a client, and knowingly made a false statement to a client,” according to the Minnesota Supreme Court order.
Bosse returned a call requesting comment, but said he didn’t feel it would be prudent to comment on the disciplinary matters at this time. He said the suspension takes effect Nov. 11.
According to the court’s petition, Bosse was disciplined for the way he handled two cases:
In the first case, on Dec. 30, 2010, a man identified only by the initials T.H. had coronary artery bypass surgery. After the surgery, T.H. suffered complications. In May 2013, he consulted with Bosse about a potential medical malpractice claim.
Four months later, in September 2013, T.H. and Bosse moved forward with the case. Over the next two years, T.H. signed three fee agreements with Bosse: a flat fee agreement, an availability fee contract for pre-suit mediation of potential malpractice claim (availability agreement), and an hourly retainer-contingency fee contract (hourly agreement).
During those two years, Bosse did not respond to reasonable requests from T.H. for updates on the status of his case. T.H. explained that, although he requested an update on his case in December 2013, he did not speak with Bosse until March 6, 2014.
He also requested updates by sending four emails to Bosse from April 2 through June 2, 2014. None were answered.
T.H. also affirmed that Bosse never provided “any communication about legal research,” discussions with necessary witnesses, or a “recommendation as to the potential cause of action,” according to the court’s petition for disciplinary action.
Despite the communication issues, Bosse prepared and served the summons and complaint on Dec. 23, 2014, just before the statute of limitations expired on Dec. 31, 2014.
T.H. terminated the representation on Feb. 20, 2015, for “unreasonable charges for services rendered.” Bosse then sent T.H. a copy of the client file. T.H. was unable to find another attorney to take his case, and in the end, after paying Bosse more than $50,000 for legal fees and expenses, T.H. agreed to dismiss the litigation.
In the second case, on April 12, 2015, a man identified only by the initials D.H. entered into a flat fee agreement with Bosse for representation on a medical malpractice claim.
D.H. contacted Bosse’s office “probably half a dozen times” to request a case status update. Although he left messages asking that someone return his calls, no one ever did. In July 2016, Bosse finally left a message on D.H.’s answering machine. After that message, D.H. had no further communication with Bosse.
Over a year later, prompted by an investigation by the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility, D.H. received his file from Bosse. The file included an opinion from an expert that no medical malpractice occurred. Bosse admits that he never sent a copy of the expert opinion to D.H.
With about six months remaining before the statute of limitations expired, D.H. contacted other attorneys, but none were willing to represent him in the medical malpractice litigation.
The Minnesota Supreme Court appointed a referee after the director of the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility filed a petition for disciplinary action against Bosse.
After a hearing, the referee determined that Bosse committed professional misconduct during his representation of the two clients, and recommended a four-month license suspension. After deliberations, the Minnesota Supreme Court decided that a 60-day suspension was more appropriate.
Bosse was admitted to practice law in Minnesota in 1994, and was previously admitted to practice law in Florida in 1972. He has practiced law for over 45 years, mostly in the medical malpractice field. Prior to the present misconduct, he received an admonition in 1997 and a public reprimand in 2000, according to the court’s petition for disciplinary action.