Disciplinary board suspends two Keota attorneys
Keota attorneys Donald Laing and D. Scott Railsback have had their law licenses suspended for 18 months by the Iowa Supreme Court Attorney Disciplinary Board for what the ruling called “serial violations of multiple ethical rules.”
The ruling is based on a complaint made by former client John T. Klein, whom the two had served for over three decades. Klein later sued the two alleging the attorneys had charged excessive fees for services, specifically the creation of annual financial reports and preparing tax returns. The court record said that for the first 19 years between 10 and 15 hours were charged for the service. Thereafter the claims for the service ranged from a low of 30 hours to a high of 76 hours per year. During a bench trial, a judgment was entered against Laing
and Railsback in the amount of $175,511. During an appeal, the amount was modified to $178,497.
A division of the Grievance Commission of the Supreme Court of Iowa found the attorneys had violated the rules and recommended their licenses be suspended for at least three years.
According to the ruling, which is available at the Iowa Judicial Branch Web site, Laing was appointed conservator for Klein on May 21, 1974 after Klein inherited 160 acres of farmland and other property from his mother’s estate. The report said Klein was a Vietnam War veteran and had a history of paranoid schizophrenia, depression and substance abuse and was undergoing outpatient mental health treatment in Boulder, Colo., at the time of Laing’s appointment. Klein later inherited additional farmland in the 1980s, other personal property valued at $56,947 in 1993, and became the life beneficiary of a trust corpus valued at $321,282. Railsback joined Laing as a partner in 1975.
Following a hearing, the Board’s disciplinary commission found the respondents had claimed excessive hours, which the report said “constitutes dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation.” The commission also found Laing and Railsback had violated rules in the performance of legal services in connection with consecutive leases of Klein’s farmland to another client — transactions presenting a conflict of interest.