Lafayette attorney Peter Brian Derouen has been disbarred following an Oct. 16 Louisiana Supreme Court disciplinary hearing over allegations he converted more than $18,000 of a client's funds and didn’t coordinate payment of her medical bills.
Derouen was ordered to make restitution to his client and her medical providers and to pay all costs and expenses, according to the high court's 10-page disciplinary proceeding.
Derouen has been ineligible to practice law since June 1 for failing to comply with mandatory continuing legal education requirements, according to the disciplinary proceeding.
Derouen was admitted to the bar in Louisiana on Oct. 5, 2001, according to his profile at the Louisiana State Bar's website. Derouen had no other discipline before the state bar, according to the disciplinary proceeding.
The state bar's office of disciplinary counsel (ODC)'s formal charges stem from a personal injury case in which Derouen's client hired him in August 2014, according to the disciplinary proceeding. After that date, Derouen failed to communicate with his client or to coordinate necessary medical treatment for her injuries, according to the disciplinary proceeding.
As of Jan. 20, 2015, the client's medical bills totaled about $18,976, seven medical providers had not been paid and medical bill collectors were contacting the client, according to the proceeding.
The following March the client hired another attorney, and Derouen failed to provide the new attorney with a copy of the client's file, according to the disciplinary proceeding.
The new attorney learned that an insurance company had tendered a check to Derouen for almost $13,747 and that Derouen had settled a claim against the defendant insurer but that the client had received only a $1,000 "loan", according to the disciplinary proceeding.
The new attorney and the client filed complaints against Derouen with the ODC and in October 2015 the new attorney filed suit against Derouen on behalf of the client, according to the disciplinary proceeding. Almost $18,628 of the client's funds were found to have been converted, according to the disciplinary proceeding.
During a sworn statement, Derouen admitted he owed the client money, although he was unsure of the exact amount, and promised to cash in an investment to pay her, according to the disciplinary proceeding, which added, "To date, he has not done so."