Submitted March 6, 2019
Certified Report by the Board of Professional Conduct of the
Supreme Court, No. 2018-027.
J. Drexel, Disciplinary Counsel, and Stacy Solochek Beckman,
Assistant Disciplinary Counsel, for relator.
Koblentz & Penvose, L.L.C., Richard S. Koblentz, Bryan L.
Penvose, and Nicholas E. Froning, for respondent.
1} Respondent, Scott Andrew Rumizen, of Beachwood,
Ohio, Attorney Registration No. 0058561, was admitted to the
practice of law in Ohio in 1992. In May 2018, relator,
disciplinary counsel, charged Rumizen with violating the
Rules of Professional Conduct by purposely underpaying a
former colleague pursuant to their fee-sharing arrangement.
Rumizen stipulated to the charges against him, and after a
hearing, the Board of Professional Conduct found that he had
engaged in the stipulated misconduct and recommended that we
suspend him for two years, with 18 months stayed on
conditions. The parties have jointly waived objections and
request that we adopt the board's recommendation.
2} Based on our review of the record, we adopt the
board's findings of misconduct and recommended sanction.
3} In 2010, Rumizen commenced working as an
independent contractor for Kraig & Kraig, a law firm
owned by Brian Kraig. In 2013, Rumizen notified Kraig that he
intended to create a new law firm, and they thereafter
discussed how to divide their pending caseload. They agreed
that Rumizen would take more than 100 pending client
matters-mostly personal-injury cases-and that in exchange,
Rumizen would pay Kraig a certain percentage of the fee he
received in each of those cases. The percentage varied
depending on whether Kraig had initiated the representation
and how much work seemed to remain to be done in each case.
4} At Rumizen's disciplinary hearing, he
testified that he had underestimated the amount of work
necessary to complete those client matters. Therefore, he
explained, after about seven months at his new law firm, he
attempted to renegotiate the terms of his fee-sharing
arrangement with Kraig but Kraig refused. Kraig testified,
however, that Rumizen never approached him about
renegotiating their arrangement and that if Rumizen had
requested a higher percentage of fees based on his extra work
in a particular case, Kraig would have agreed to the
modification. The board found Kraig's testimony more
5} Regardless, the parties stipulated that in 13 of
the client matters transferred to Rumizen, he purposely
underpaid Kraig the amount to which Kraig was entitled under
their fee-sharing arrangement. For example, Rumizen settled
one of the personal-injury claims for $170, 000 and received
$62, 000 in attorney fees. Rumizen should have paid Kraig
$15, 000 pursuant to the terms of their arrangement. However,
Rumizen falsely represented to Kraig that the matter had
settled for only $60, 000 and that he had received only $15,
000 in attorney fees. He therefore paid Kraig only $3, 750.
The parties also stipulated that Rumizen failed to inform
Kraig about eight settlements. For example, Rumizen settled
one matter for $67, 500 and received $18, 000 in attorney
fees. Although Kraig was entitled to $1, 800 of those fees,
Rumizen failed to notify him of the settlement and therefore
failed to pay him his share.
6} Rumizen engaged in this misconduct for
approximately two years. To conceal his actions, he created
false settlement-disbursement sheets by changing the amount
of the settlement, the amount of fees he received, or the
costs for medical expenses. In some cases, he forged client
signatures on the false disbursement sheets so that Kraig
would believe that the sheets accurately reflected the
settlement in the matter.
7} In December 2016, Kraig received an anonymous
letter notifying him of Rumizen's misconduct. Kraig
confronted Rumizen with the letter, and although Rumizen
initially denied the allegations, he soon acknowledged that
he had been underpaying Kraig. Rumizen and his law firm later
hired an accounting firm to audit the cases subject to the
fee-sharing arrangement, and Rumizen paid restitution to
Kraig in the amount of $48, 457.81-the remaining amount to
which he was entitled under their arrangement-plus $2, 883.77
in lost interest. In 2018, Rumizen and his law firm paid
Kraig an additional $100, 000 to settle any civil claims.
8} Based on this conduct, the parties stipulated and
the board found that Rumizen violated Prof.Cond.R. 8.4(c)
(prohibiting a lawyer from engaging in conduct involving
dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation). The board
also found that Rumizen's misconduct was sufficiently
egregious to warrant a finding that he violated Prof.Cond.R.
8.4(h) (prohibiting a lawyer from engaging in conduct that
adversely reflects on the lawyer's ...