LADB recommends suspension of Gretna attorney for alleged failure to return fees

By Karen Kidd | Dec 3, 2018

NEW ORLEANS (Louisiana Record) — Gretna attorney Kevin Michael Steel faces possible suspension following a Nov. 30 Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board (LADB) recommendation to the state Supreme Court over a failure to return unearned fees to clients.

The LADB recommended Steel be suspended for a year and a day, ordered to make full restitution of $1,000 in unearned fees to his client and that pay all costs and expenses in the matter, according to the board's 11-page recommendation.

The LADB's recommendation follows a hearing committee's legal conclusions and its own recommendations for the same sanction filed in May.

The office of disciplinary counsel alleges Steel violated professional conduct rules, including those regarding diligence, communication and returning an unearned portion of a fixed fee. Steel also was alleged to have knowingly made a false statement of material fact in a disciplinary matter and engaged in involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation.

Steel did not file a timely response to the charges, which then became deemed admitted, and has only sporadically responded to the office of disciplinary counsel in the matter, according to the LADB's recommendation.

Steel was admitted to the bar in Louisiana on April 23, 1999, according to his profile at the Louisiana State Bar Association's website.

Allegations against Steel stem from his representation of a client in 2015 against her automobile insurance company over a decision to deny coverage in a vehicle accident involving the client's son, according to the background portion of the LADB's recommendation. In October 2015, Steel asked for $1,000 up front, indicating $700 would be used to file the lawsuit in Jefferson Parish.

The client allegedly heard little from Steel and terminated his representation the following December and requested he return the fees. The now-former client filed her complaint in January 2016 and informed the office of disciplinary counsel in January 2017 that the refund still had not been received.

In July 2018 Steel filed a motion to continue a board panel argument and to allow him 60 days to obtain counsel and respond. An Aug. 21 deadline was set for Steel to file his response or initial brief. 

Steel, subsequently, filed nothing for the board to consider, no counsel appeared on his behalf and Steel did not appear at a hearing in September, according to the LADB's recommendation.

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Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board Louisiana State Bar Association Louisiana Supreme Court

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