In the Matter of John M. Knox, Respondent.
Original proceeding in discipline.
Stanton A. Hazlett, Disciplinary Administrator, argued the
cause, and was on the formal complaint for the petitioner.
appearance by respondent.
an original proceeding in discipline filed by the office of
the Disciplinary Administrator against the respondent, John
M. Knox, of Lenexa, an attorney admitted to the practice of
law in Kansas in 1994.
October 4, 2017, the office of the Disciplinary Administrator
filed a formal complaint against the respondent alleging
violations of the Kansas Rules of Professional Conduct
(KRPC). The respondent failed to file an answer. A hearing
was held on the complaint before a panel of the Kansas Board
for Discipline of Attorneys on March 22, 2018, at which the
respondent did not appear. The hearing panel determined that
respondent violated KRPC 1.1 (2018 Kan. S.Ct. R. 289)
(competence); 1.3 (2018 Kan. S.Ct. R. 292) (diligence);
1.4(a) (2018 Kan. S.Ct. R. 293) (communication); 1.5(d) (2018
Kan. S.Ct. R. 294) (fees); 3.2 (2018 Kan. S.Ct. R. 343)
(expediting litigation); 4.1(a) (2018 Kan. S.Ct. R. 355)
(truthfulness in statements to others); 8.4(c) (2018 Kan.
S.Ct. R. 381) (engaging in conduct involving dishonesty,
fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation); 8.4(d) (2018 Kan. S.Ct.
R. 381) (engaging in conduct prejudicial to the
administration of justice); 8.4(g) (2018 Kan. S.Ct. R. 381)
(engaging in conduct adversely reflecting on lawyer's
fitness to practice law); and Kansas Supreme Court Rule
207(b) (2018 Kan. S.Ct. R. 246) (failure to cooperate in
conclusion of the hearing, the panel made the following
findings of fact and conclusions of law, together with its
recommendation to this court:
. . . .
"9. On June 19, 2013, W.D. was involved in a two-car
automobile accident in Baldwin City, Kansas. The driver of
the other car failed to stop at a stop sign and collided with
W.D.'s car. Both drivers were insured. W.D. suffered
injuries to his hip, back, and shoulder. In the fall of 2013,
W.D. underwent laminectomy surgery (a surgical operation to
remove the back of vertebrae to relieve pressure on nerves).
An MRI had shown that five of W.D.'s vertebrae were
pinching against his spinal cord.
"10. W.D. was advised by his insurance company to seek
legal counsel. W.D. and his wife, K.D., met with and hired
the respondent in June or July of 2013, shortly after the
"11. The respondent proposed a contingent fee
arrangement in which the respondent would receive 30% of any
recovery. W.D. and K.D. agreed to the fee proposed by the
respondent. The respondent failed to reduce the agreement to
"12. W.D. and K.D. again met with respondent at the
respondent's office in Lawrence. At that time, W.D.
provided the respondent with his medical records. The
respondent advised W.D. and K.D. that he was submitting
information to an insurance company.
"13. Throughout the representation, W.D. and K.D. had a
difficult time communicating with respondent.
"14. In the spring of 2014, W.D. spoke with the
respondent by telephone. The respondent explained that he had
not maintained communication because the respondent's
wife had been ill. The respondent, however, assured W.D. that
everything was fine with the case.
"15. Thereafter, W.D. and K.D. were unable to reach the
respondent. They were aware that a deadline existed in the
case and they increased their attempts to contact the
respondent. W.D. and K.D. believed that the respondent had
filed a civil case on behalf of W.D. by this time.
"16. The respondent failed to inform W.D. that he moved
his office to another location. On his own, W.D. learned that
the respondent had moved his office to 810 Pennsylvania,
"W.D. or K.D. called the respondent weekly, but were not
able to make contact with him. At some point, the
respondent's voicemail box was full.
"During the fall of 2015, they left notes on the door of
the respondent's office because when they would attempt
to locate him in his office, he was never present. They
contacted the manager of the building where the
respondent's office was located, but they were not able
to obtain information on how to get in touch with the
"17. In February 2016, W.D. and K.D. sent a letter to
the respondent via certified mail, return receipt
requested. The letter eventually came back as unclaimed
because it was not picked up by the respondent.
"18. On March 11, 2016, W.D. filed a complaint with the
disciplinary administrator's office. Leslie Miller of the
Douglas County Ethics and Grievance Committee was assigned to
investigate the complaint.
"19. On March 14, 2016, the disciplinary administrator
notified the respondent by letter that W.D.'s complaint
had been docketed for investigation. The disciplinary
administrator directed the respondent to provide a written
response to the complaint within 20 days. The respondent did
not provide a written response to the complaint.
"20. Ms. Miller sent letters to the respondent on March
21, 2016, May 11, 2016, and June 6, 2016, directing the
respondent to provide a written response to W.D.'s
complaint. The respondent did not provide a written response
to the complaint filed by W.D.
"21. In June 2016, Special Investigator William Delaney
contacted the respondent at his home. The respondent claimed
that he had not received the complaint, but that he would
respond. While the respondent provided Mr. Delaney with
W.D.'s client file, respondent never provided a response
to the complaint.
"22. During the investigation, Ms. Miller checked the
Douglas County court records and determined that two civil
cases had been filed by the respondent on behalf of W.D.,
cases numbered 2015-V-000457 and 2015-V-000458. Both cases
were filed on December 21, 2015. The petitions in the two
cases were identical and filing fees had been paid by the
respondent in both cases. Both cases were filed outside of
the two-year statute of limitations.
"23. In 2015-V-000457, after counsel for the defendant
filed a motion to dismiss the case based on the statute of
limitations, on May 11, 2016, the court dismissed the case
with prejudice. In 2015-V-000458, the court dismissed the
case for lack of prosecution on December 22, 2016.
"24. Robert Luder represented the defendant in the
personal injury cases. Mr. Luder advised Ms. Miller that the
respondent told him that he had filed the case within the
statute of limitations but that there was a glitch in the
clerk's office with respect to the filing.
"25. On May 24, 2016, Ms. Miller met with W.D. and K.D.
During that meeting, W.D. and K.D. asked Ms. Miller about the
status of the case. Ms. Miller told W.D. and K.D. that the
case had been filed approximately six months too late and
that it had been dismissed on May 11, 2016. According to Ms.
Miller, W.D. and K.D. were shocked and upset that the case
had been dismissed.
"26. During the time that the respondent represented
W.D., the respondent did not have malpractice insurance.
"On December 23, 2016, the Supreme Court issued an
opinion suspending the respondent's license to practice
law for a period of one year. In re Knox, 305 Kan.
628, 385 P.3d 500 (2016). The respondent's license
"27. On October 4, 2017, Mr. Hazlett filed the formal
complaint in this case. That same day, the formal complaint
and the notice of hearing were sent to the respondent at his
last registration address by certified mail. Additionally, a
copy of the formal complaint and notice of hearing were sent
to the respondent at his last registration address and his
home address by regular mail. The respondent failed to file
an answer to the formal complaint. Later, on November 30,
2017, William C. Delaney, Special Investigator with the
disciplinary administrator's office served a copy of the
formal complaint and notice of hearing on the