Attorney suspended without automatic reinstatement for misconduct resulting in 12 rule violations

Carmel attorney P. Adam Davis has been suspended from the practice of law for one year without automatic reinstatement after the Indiana Supreme Court found he violated 12 professional conduct and admission rules arising from two separate disciplinary actions.

In the first case, In the Matter of P. Adam Davis, 20S-DI-27, Davis admitted to four rule violations linked to trust account mismanagement and inadequate supervision of a paralegal, according to the Indiana Supreme Court’s order in both cases. The second case, In the Matter of P. Adam Davis, 21S-DI-88, Davis committed eight rule violations arising from two client representations.

The Supreme Court noted its Disciplinary Commission acknowledged Davis’ trust account mismanagement, which did not involve conversion or misappropriation of client funds, was not particularly serious. However, his misconduct in Case No. 21S-DI-88 was entirely different, involving “pervasive fraud, dishonesty, bad faith, obstreperousness, repetitive and frivolous filings, and gross incompetence.”

“Respondent has no prior discipline, but his pattern of misconduct in this case spanned nearly a decade and reflects factors that are endemic to Respondent’s practice and not isolated lapses in judgment,” the Supreme Court stated. “Accordingly, suspension without automatic reinstatement is warranted.”

The second case, 21S-DI-88, consists of two counts.

In the first, Davis represented a limited liability company and its three principals, a father, daughter and son-in-law. After a franchise agreement fell through, Davis’ clients filed a lawsuit that, according to the son-in-law, was “not to obtain a judgment on the merits but to cause the defendants to incur costs that will force them to go out of business.”

The Supreme Court stated, “Throughout the litigation, Respondent engaged in dilatory and oppressive practices that significantly drove up the cost and duration of proceedings, incurring three separate sanctions orders from the district court. Respondent’s abusive tactics also included making scandalous and irrelevant accusations that one defendant had given his former girlfriends sexually-transmitted diseases and issuing subpoenas to two of those girlfriends.”

The defendants to Davis’ lawsuit were ultimately successful, getting damages of $270,000. Also, one of the defendants who had filed a counterclaim was awarded $384,000 in attorney fees.

During the litigation, Davis helped his clients in their attempt to transfer ownership of trademarks and other intellectual property to a different LLC that Davis’ clients owned. Davis did not notify the court or opposing counsel of the transfer and instead represented that the original LLC owned and was enforcing the trademarks.

However, when the counterclaim defendant sought to enforce the judgment, Davis asserted the LLC no longer owned the trademarks. The parties reached a settlement in February 2020, but the trial court proceedings were reopened in late 2020 when the daughter and son-in-law failed to comply with the agreement.

In addition, the counterclaim defendant filed a collections action asserting a judicial lien against real property for which the daughter was the fee simple owner. Davis filed an answer and counterclaim, falsely alleging the daughter had quitclaimed the property to her mother and even attached an unexecuted, unrecorded document purporting to that fact. The trial court awarded judgment and a degree of foreclosure to the counterclaim defendant when Davis failed to respond to the summary judgment motion.

In the second count, Davis initially represented a buyer who wanted to purchase GMRT, which owned and operated a pizza restaurant. One of GMRT’s three members objected to the sale and, during the negotiations, Davis, who later began representing the other two members, presented the third member with a fake agreement bearing his forged signature purporting to permit GMRT’s sale.

The third member filed a lawsuit against the other two members, the buyer and others in Hamilton County. After Davis engaged in extensive discovery misconduct and made multiple false representations in motions for extensions of time, the trial court ruled against all the defendants.

But the lower court granted the defendants’ motion for involuntary dismissal on the grounds that the third member could not prove damages.

In the appeals that followed, Davis filed several motions for extension of time and similar relief, “some of which were belated and of dubious veracity and one of which attempted to blame the Commission for Respondent’s inability to timely file a brief,” according to the Supreme Court’s order. When Davis did file his brief, it did not comply with the Appellate Rules and “was riddled with errors, unsupported and false factual assertions, and personal attacks on opposing counsel.”

Defendants subsequently fired Davis. The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed the trial court damages ruling and remanded for the award of damages and attorney fees.

In Case No. 20S-DI-27, Davis was found to have violated Indiana Rules of Professional Conduct 1.15(a), commingling client and attorney funds; and 5.3(c), ordering or ratifying the misconduct of a nonlawyer assistant.

Also, he was found to have violated Indiana Rules for Admission to the Bar and the Discipline of Attorneys 23(29)(c)(2), paying personal or business expenses directly from a trust account and failing to withdraw fully earned fees and reimbursed expenses from a trust account, and 23(29)(c)(5), making cash disbursements from a trust account.

In Case No. 21S-DI-88, Davis was found to have violated Indiana Rules of Professional Conduct 1.1, failing to provide competent representation; 1.3, failing to act with reasonable diligence and promptness; 1.7 representing a client when representation involved a concurrent conflict of interest; 3.1 asserting a position for which there is no non-frivolous basis in law or fact; 3.2, failing to expedite litigation consistent with the interests of a client; 4.2, improperly communicating with a person the lawyer knows to be represented by another lawyer in the matter; 8.4(c), engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation; and 8.4(d), engaging in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice.

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