Submitted December 6, 2017
Certified Report by the Board of Professional Conduct of the
Supreme Court, No. 2016-030.
J. Drexel, Disciplinary Counsel, Joseph M. Caligiuri, Chief
Assistant Disciplinary Counsel, and Jennifer A. Bondurant,
Assistant Disciplinary Counsel, for relator.
and Nordstrom, L.L.C., and Thomas H. Pyper, for respondent.
1} Respondent, Andrew Mahlon Engel, of Centerville,
Ohio, Attorney Registration No. 0047371, was admitted to the
practice of law in Ohio in 1990.
2} On November 21, 2001, we publicly reprimanded
Engel for neglecting a legal matter and attempting to handle
it without adequate preparation. Dayton Bar Assn. v.
Engel, 93 Ohio St.3d 623, 758 N.E.2d 178 (2001). And on
December 22, 2004, we suspended him from the practice of law
for two years with six months of the suspension stayed on
conditions for intentionally failing to seek the lawful
objectives of a client, intentionally failing to carry out a
contract of employment, engaging in conduct that adversely
reflected on his fitness to practice law, and failing to
cooperate in the ensuing disciplinary investigation.
Dayton Bar Assn. v. Engel, 105 Ohio St.3d 49,
2004-Ohio-6900, 822 N.E.2d 346.
3} In an August 3, 2016 complaint, relator,
disciplinary counsel, alleged that Engel neglected a single
client matter, failed to keep the client reasonably informed
about the status of her legal matter and to comply with her
reasonable requests for information, failed to promptly
refund the unearned portion of his fee, and failed to
cooperate in the resulting disciplinary investigation. The
parties submitted joint stipulations in which Engel admitted
the charged misconduct and agreed that three aggravating
factors and four mitigating factors are present.
4} A panel of the Board of Professional Conduct
conducted a hearing at which it heard testimony from Engel
and three character references and viewed the video
deposition of Engel's treating psychologist.
5} The panel adopted the parties' stipulations
and recommended that Engel be suspended from the practice of
law for two years with 18 months of the suspension stayed
provided that he meet certain conditions before reinstatement
and that once reinstated to the practice of law, he serve a
two-year period of monitored probation. The board adopted the
panel's report and recommendation, with an additional
requirement that on seeking reinstatement, Engel must provide
an opinion from a qualified healthcare professional that he
is able to return to the competent and ethical professional
practice of law. Engel objects to the panel's denial of
his motion to supplement his postearing brief and to the
board's recommended sanction. For the reasons that
follow, we overrule Engel's objections, adopt the
board's findings of fact, misconduct, and aggravating and
mitigating factors, and suspend Engel from the practice of
law for two years with 18 months of the suspension stayed,
and we place the recommended conditions on his reinstatement.
6} In April 2015, Dianne Shelton hired Engel to
represent her in a consumer- debt action. Engel sent letters
to counsel for Shelton's creditor on April 27 and June
22, 2015, but Engel did not respond to Shelton's multiple
efforts to reach him or take any other action to settle her
debt before she filed a grievance with relator in August
7} Engel responded to relator's original letter
of inquiry in October 2015 and promised, during a November
19, 2015 telephone conversation with relator, that he would
contact Shelton. But he had no contact with Shelton or
relator until mid-February 2016. After informing relator that
Shelton had agreed to continue his representation and
exchanging a few e-mails with Shelton, Engel had no further
contact with her until early March-when Shelton told him that
she had settled the matter herself. Engel did not respond to
relator's letters requesting that he submit proof that he
had honored his promise to refund the balance of
Shelton's retainer until relator served him with a
subpoena for his deposition at the end of May. But even then,
he did not provide a copy of the correspondence he had sent
to Shelton. The parties stipulated that Engel refunded $50 of
Shelton's $500 retainer on May 24, 2016, followed by the
remaining $450 on July 11, 2016.
8} Therefore, the parties stipulated and the board
found that Engel violated Prof.Cond.R. 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), 1.4(a)(4)
(requiring a lawyer to comply as soon as practicable with
reasonable requests for information from the client), 1.16(e)
(requiring a lawyer to promptly refund any unearned fee upon
the lawyer's withdrawal from employment), and 8.1(b) and
Gov.Bar R. V(9)(G) (both requiring a lawyer to cooperate with
a disciplinary investigation).
9} We adopt the board's findings of fact and
10} When imposing sanctions for attorney misconduct,
we consider several relevant factors, including the ethical
duties that the lawyer violated, the aggravating and
mitigating factors listed in Gov.Bar R. V(13), and the
sanctions imposed in similar cases.
11} Here, the board considered Engel's
misconduct and adopted the parties' stipulated
aggravating factors, which include two instances of prior
discipline, the commission of multiple offenses, and
Engel's failure to cooperate in the investigative stage
of the disciplinary process. See Gov.Bar R.
V(13)(B)(1), (4), and (5). The board also adopted the
parties' stipulations regarding the applicable mitigating
factors, including the absence of a dishonest or selfish
motive, Engel's eventual full and free disclosure to the
board and cooperative attitude toward the disciplinary