On Tuesday, January 9, 2024, Edward A. Sargent was disbarred by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court for intentionally misusing funds intended for medical providers in a personal injury case.
The case is entitled “In the Matter of Edward A. Sargent,” with case no. BD-2023-0038.
According to a memorandum from Associate Justice Serge Georges, Sargent represented a six-year-old child who was struck by a vehicle in December 2018. The child incurred approximately $91,000 in medical bills from treatment at two hospitals.
In January 2019, Sargent received $8,000 from the driver’s auto insurer through personal injury protection (PIP) benefits, which are intended to cover medical expenses from car accidents. Sargent deposited the funds into his client’s trust account, called an IOLTA account. However, instead of notifying the hospitals and holding the funds for medical bills as required, Sargent withdrew the entire $8,000 in cash for his personal use over 17 days in January 2019.
An investigation by the Office of Bar Counsel began in late 2019 after issues with Sargent’s IOLTA account were reported. In 2020, the personal injury case for the child settled for $18,500. It was discovered that Sargent had replaced the misused PIP funds back into his account just before providing records to bar counsel. He issued the $8,000 to the child’s mother in December 2019, even though the money was owed to the hospitals.
In April 2022, a remote disciplinary hearing was held before the Board of Bar Overseers, where Sargent admitted to various violations of rules regarding proper IOLTA account management and use of funds. In September 2022, the hearing committee recommended indefinite suspension. However, the full board recommended disbarment in an October 2022 decision based on the intentional misuse of third-party medical funds.
Associate Justice Georges’ January 2023 decision agreed with the board’s recommendation of disbarment, finding no mitigating factors to outweigh Sargent’s misconduct. As Sargent’s actions involved intentional misappropriation of funds held in trust while practicing law, disbarment was ruled to be the appropriate sanction to protect the public trust in the legal profession.
The Disposition states:
“In sum, the Bar Counsel has proved that Sargent intentionally misused trust funds with actual deprivation resulting and that he otherwise violated multiple rules of professional conduct. Where, as here, there are no mitigating factors, our case law makes clear that disbarment is the appropriate sanction. A judgment of disbarment shall issue.”
According to avvo.com, Mr. Sargent was a medical malpractice attorney in Beverly, Massachusetts. He acquired his law license in Massachusetts in 2002.
A copy of the original filing can be found here.