On Tuesday, October 31, 2023, the Lorain County Bar Association Legal Ethics and Grievance Committee filed a complaint against attorney Gerald Robert Walton with the Board of Professional Conduct of the Supreme Court of Ohio. The complaint alleges violations of the Ohio Rules of Professional Conduct in Walton’s representation of a client in a legal dispute with a roofing company in June 2019.
The case is entitled “Lorain County Bar Association Legal Ethics and Grievance Committee v. Gerald Robert Walton,” with case no. 2023-036.
The charges cited Ohio Rules of Professional Conduct 1.3, 1.5(d)(3), 1.15(a), and 1.15(c).
According to the complaint, Walton was retained by Linda Bilow in June 2019 to represent her in a legal matter with Bill Jackson Roofing, Inc. Walton charged Bilow a $1,500 “non-refundable retainer” but did not notify her in writing that she may be entitled to a refund if he did not complete the representation. The complaint also alleges Walton failed to inform Bilow that he did not carry professional liability insurance.
In September 2019, Bill Jackson Roofing filed a lawsuit against Bilow for non-payment of the contract. Walton filed an answer on Bilow’s behalf in February 2020. However, in June 2020 Bill Jackson Roofing filed a motion for summary judgment in which Walton failed to file a response by the deadline and as a result, the court granted summary judgment for the roofing company.
The complaint alleges that Walton took no action to remedy the judgment against Bilow. It states that Walton should have deposited Bilow’s retainer fee into his client trust account but likely failed to do so. Walton has a prior disciplinary record from 2016 involving similar conduct.
Bilow filed a grievance with the Lorain County Bar in February 2023 detailing Walton’s alleged failures in her case. The Lorain County Bar Association Legal Ethics and Grievance Committee is now asking the Ohio Board of Professional Conduct to certify the complaint and allow it to proceed against Walton for alleged violations of Ohio’s professional conduct rules regarding diligence, fees, and trust accounts.
The complaint states:
“WHEREFORE, pursuant to Gov. Bar R. V, Relator alleges that Respondent Attorney Gerald Robert Walton has violated the Ohio Rules of Professional Conduct and the Ohio Rules for the Government of the Bar. As such, Relator respectfully requests that the Board of Professional Conduct proceed accordingly; certify this matter for prosecution; and allow this matter to proceed forthwith.”
According to avvo.com, Mr. Walton is a family attorney in Independence, Ohio. He acquired his law license in Ohio in 1980.
A copy of the original filing can be found here.