This is an original proceeding in discipline
filed by the office of the disciplinary administrator against
Allan D. Morphett, of Prairie Village, an attorney admitted to
the practice of law in Kansas. Three separate cases are included
in the formal complaint. The facts are not disputed.
In November 1987, complainant retained respondent to defend her
in a lawsuit filed in the District Court of Johnson County,
Kansas. The complainant paid respondent a retainer of $200 and
hand-delivered the check to him on or about November 16, 1987.
Respondent informed complainant that she had good defenses to the
lawsuit and that the case was fairly simple.
Respondent filed no written answer, affirmative defenses, or
counterclaims to the petition and served no discovery requests.
Complainant heard nothing further from respondent. She became
concerned about a court date and made numerous attempts to
contact respondent by telephone without success. On February 29,
1988, respondent was served with notice of trial setting. The
trial was set for March 24, 1988, at 10:00 a.m. in Johnson County
District Court. Respondent did not notify complainant of the
On March 24, 1988, a default judgment was entered against
complainant in the amount of $1,508.35 plus interest and costs.
Respondent did not appear for trial and did not notify
complainant that a default judgment had been entered against her.
The journal entry of default was filed March 30, 1988. Fifteen
days after the entry of default, on April 8, 1988, respondent
filed a motion to set aside the judgment. Respondent represented
to the court that he was made aware that default judgment had
approximately 30 minutes after the same had occurred. Respondent
indicated he had missed the court date due to clerical error.
The motion to set aside the judgment was denied after a hearing
to the court on April 15, 1988, and the order was filed on May 9,
1988. Respondent did not notify complainant of the hearing or the
results of the hearing. On or about May 31, 1988, complainant's
employer was served with an order of garnishment. This was the
first notice complainant had that judgment had been entered
against her. She made numerous attempts to contact respondent by
telephone and left messages on his answering machine but was
unsuccessful in reaching him. Respondent did not return her
telephone calls or return the retainer.
Orders were subsequently obtained directing complainant to pay,
and her wages were garnished throughout 1988 and 1989 to satisfy
the judgment. At her initial consultation with respondent,
complainant also had sought his services to assist her in
negotiating repayment of her student loan incurred for her
education at Platt College. Complainant's income tax refund has
been held by the government to apply toward the loan. Respondent
never communicated with her regarding this matter.
In the second complaint, on or about August 24, 1988,
complainant retained respondent to renegotiate a lease for his
business. Respondent requested a retainer of $200, which was
paid. Respondent told complainant that he would write a letter to
complainant regarding the renegotiation of the lease and assist
him. Complainant began calling respondent to learn of the status
of the negotiations approximately one week after meeting with
him. Respondent did not return his telephone calls and did not
correspond with complainant.
On October 7, 1988, complainant sent respondent a certified
return-receipt letter advising him his services were no longer
needed and requesting return of the $200 retainer fee and the
documents provided to respondent. Respondent did not return the
money or reply to the letter.
Complainant retained other counsel to renegotiate his lease. On
October 28, 1988, and November 21, 1988, complainant's counsel
wrote to respondent and made demand on behalf of complainant for
return of the documents and retainer. Respondent
did not reply to the correspondence and has never repaid the
In the final complaint, complainant retained respondent to
probate the estate of his mother. Complainant was advised
respondent would require a retainer of 5% to 10% of the value of
his mother's estate as a "good starting point." Respondent
prepared a petition for probate of will under the Kansas
Simplified Estates Act and filed the petition on October 14,
1987. Complainant was the sole heir under the will to his
On November 12, 1987, respondent and complainant attended the
hearing on the petition for probate of will and the appointment
of complainant as executor. Respondent requested and was paid by
check the sum of $1,500 as a retainer that same day. Respondent
cashed the check. Complainant heard nothing further from
respondent. He made ...