On Thursday, July 6, 2023, the Virginia State Bar issued a public reprimand against attorney Henry W. McLaughlin III for his failure to communicate with his client about the status of the case.
The case is entitled “In the Matter of Henry W. McLaughlin III,” with case no. 23-031-127527.
A lawyer shall act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client.
Except as provided in paragraph (b), a lawyer shall not represent a client if the representation involves a concurrent conflict of interest. A concurrent conflict of interest exists if: (2) there is a significant risk that the representation of one or more clients will be materially limited by the lawyer’s responsibilities to another client, a former client, or a third person, or by a personal interest of the lawyer.
A lawyer shall not represent a client or, where representation has commenced, shall withdraw from the representation of a client if: (1) the representation will result in violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct or other law.
McLaughlin III was accused of negligence after he agreed to represent a client on a contingency basis. The attorney allegedly did not communicate with the client about the case’s status, did not obtain medical bills or records, and failed to file suit against a transit company before the legal deadline. The allegations triggered an investigation into the attorney’s conduct.
The filing states:
“By retainer agreement entered into on August 18, 2018, McLaughlin III agreed to represent Complainant LP on a contingency basis, one-third of any amount recovered, plus out-of-pocket expenses, for injuries LP sustained on August 11, 2018, while a passenger on a Greater Richmond Transit Company(GRTC) bus.”
The filing continues:
“On October 11, 2022, while preparing for a meeting with LP regarding the Achievable Development case discussed below, McLaughlin III realized that he never filed suit against GRTC. Upon realizing that he had not filed suit within the SOL, he told LP that she could sue him and recalls that LP asked him how much she could have gotten in the lawsuit, and he replied $50,000 because that was the maximum GRTC coverage, McLaughlin III did not and does not have malpractice insurance. McLaughlin III states his offer to handle LP’s case for free was not contingent upon dropping a malpractice claim. McLaughlin III did not try to negotiate any settlements on any terms on any of her cases.”
The filing further states:
“As reflected in emails between LP and McLaughlin III after October 11, 2022, after McLaughlin III disclosed to LP that he failed to file suit against GRTC within the SOL, the attorney-client relationship disintegrated, and LP lost faith in McLaughlin III. On her March 22, 2023, interview with the bar investigator, LP stated that she does not know what is going on in her Achievable Development case. When asked if McLaughlin III had communicated with her regarding the case, LP stated: Let me break it down to you like this, when a person do you dirty like that, taking your livelihood and my ability to take care of my medical needs, how much communication do you want with them? How would you like to speak to somebody who took away your benefits from being injured?
The filing additionally notes:
“In her March 22, 2023, interview with the bar investigator, LP stated that she does not know what is going on in her Achievable Development case. When asked if McLaughlin III had communicated with her regarding the case, LP stated:
Let me break it down to you like this, when a person do you dirty like that, taking your livelihood and my ability to take care of my medical needs, how much·communication do you want with them? How would you like to speak to somebody who took away your benefits from being injured? In reply to the bar investigator’s question as to whether LP fired McLaughlin III, LP stated “If I do that, I won’t have anything then.” She said that McLaughlin III can handle her cases, but she won’t be there. “If I get money, mail it to me. Anybody that dirty to do somebody that low, they got a problem.”
In lieu of the aforementioned misconduct, the subcommittee voted to approve an agreed disposition for a public reprimand without terms against Mr. McLaughlin III.
The order states :
“Accordingly, having approved the agreed disposition, it is the decision of the Subcommittee to impose a Public Reprimand with Terms.”
The petitioner must complete six hours of CLE in personal injury litigation by January 2, 2024, and certify his attendance online or by Form 2. These hours will not count towards his regular CLE requirement. If he fails to comply, he must show cause before the District Committee and pay an administrative fee and costs.
Attorney McLaughlin attended the University of Virginia School of Law, graduating in 1966. He practices in Richmond, Virginia. He is licensed in Virginia. His info can be found on profiles.superlawyers.com.
A copy of the original filing can be found here.