Submitted April 5, 2017
Certified Report by the Board of Professional Conduct of the
Supreme Court, No. 2016-036.
Leland Evans; and Lori J. Brown, Bar Counsel, and A. Alysha
Clous, Assistant Bar Counsel, for relator.
Kegler, Brown, Hill & Ritter Co., L.P.A., and Jonathan E.
Coughlan, for respondent.
1} Respondent, Jeffrey Thomas Kluesener, of
Columbus, Ohio, Attorney Registration No. 0087256, was
admitted to the practice of law in Ohio in 2011. On August
26, 2016, relator, Columbus Bar Association, charged
Kluesener with professional misconduct arising from his
neglect of a single client matter.
2} A panel of the Board of Professional Conduct
considered the cause on the parties'
consent-to-discipline agreement. See Gov.Bar R.
3} In their consent agreement, the parties stipulate
that Kluesener served as a law clerk at the Michael D.
Christensen Law Offices, L.L.C., for approximately two years
before he was admitted to the Ohio bar in May 2011 and
assumed the role of a lawyer with the firm.
4} On April 21, 2011, Anthony Vera hired the firm to
pursue a products-liability claim against the manufacturer of
a floor scrubber that allegedly caused him serious and
permanent injury in a November 2010 work-related accident.
Kluesener was involved in Vera's representation from the
initial intake interview, first as a law clerk, and then as
5} Although Kluesener had never handled a
products-liability case before, he was lead counsel on
Vera's case and the only attorney identified as
plaintiffs counsel on the complaint he drafted and filed in
the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas.
6} Kluesener knew that he would need to retain an
expert to support Vera's claim that the floor scrubber
was defective, but he did not know how to find an expert. He
did not request the assistance of the other attorneys at his
firm, even though he was periodically under the supervision
of Attorneys Chanda Higgins (n.k.a. Chanda Brown) and Michael
D. Christensen. He failed to respond to the defendant's
discovery requests and an order to compel him to respond. And
after the defendant filed a motion to dismiss the complaint,
Kluesener voluntarily dismissed the complaint pursuant to
7} Kluesener refiled the complaint one year later,
but the only effort he made to gather additional information
in support of Vera's claim was to write a single letter
to the expert who had investigated the accident in
conjunction with a related workers' compensation claim.
But that expert had found that there was no product defect
and laid blame for the accident on the employer's
requirement that the scrubber be parked in a certain way.
After Kluesener once again failed to respond to a court order
directing him to respond to the defendant's discovery
requests, the court dismissed Vera's case with prejudice
on July 8, 2015.
8} Kluesener admits that he did not communicate with
Vera about his failure to hire an expert, his failure to
respond to the defendant's discovery requests, the
dismissal of Vera's complaint, or the fact that his
failures could provide a cause of action for legal
malpractice. Vera terminated the representation in December
2015 and after obtaining new counsel, filed a
legal-malpractice and spoliation complaint against Kluesener
and the Christensen firm. That complaint was settled and
dismissed in February 2016.
9} Kluesener admits that his conduct violated
Prof.Cond.R. 1.1 (requiring a lawyer to provide competent
representation to a client), 1.3 (requiring a lawyer to act
with reasonable diligence in representing a client),
1.4(a)(3) (requiring a lawyer to keep the client reasonably
informed about the status of a matter), 1.16(d) (requiring a
lawyer withdrawing from representation to take steps
reasonably practicable to protect a client's interest),
and 3.4(d) (prohibiting a lawyer ...