LOS ANGELES — Marina Del Rey attorney Geoffrey L. Taylor was placed on suspension by the State Bar Court of California for misappropriation of client funds in a single matter.
The suspension went into effect Nov. 4, according to the State Bar website.
According to the statement of facts listed in court documents, Taylor was hired by a woman in September 2013 to represent her in a personal injury suit. The client and attorney agreed that Taylor would receive 33.3 percent of any funds obtained in her case. The matter was settled Dec. 27, 2013, and the plaintiff received a $50,000 settlement, $16,665 of which should have covered Taylor’s fees.
The client requested that their portion of the settlement be held in Taylor’s client trust account while they negotiated the medical bills from her accident. Taylor agreed, and by April 2014, Los Robles Hospital had waived the client's medical expenses. However, between January 2014 and May 2014, the attorney allegedly wrote several checks from his client trust account for personal expenses. At one point, the account fell to a total of $32.70.
In June 2014, Taylor used his personal account to wire $29,955.99 to his client and settled her remaining medical bills. The client filed a complaint against Taylor for misappropriating funds, and he was contacted about the matter by the State Bar in February 2015.
The State Bar took into account several factors while determining the severity of Taylor’s sentence, according to court documents. Taylor had no disciplinary history, his candor in the situation was evidenced by his payment of all funds to the client and medical providers prior to contact by the State Bar, and his admission of wrongdoing showed remorse. Taylor also provided personal references and explained that he had been going through personal issues at the time of misconduct.
Taylor was suspended for two years and also will serve three years' probation. Failure to comply with the disciplinary terms of his probation will have him facing a three-year suspension, according to his profile page on the State Bar website. Taylor will also be required to pass the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination. If he is unable to pass the exam, he will again be placed on suspension without a hearing. Taylor satisfied the ethics school requirement by taking and passing the course in May 2015.
In accordance with the suspension, Taylor must comply with the California Rules of Court Rule 9.20 subsections (a) and (c). According to the rules, Taylor must to notify his clients of the ruling, make available any papers necessary to clients for their cases, return any remaining unearned fees, and notify opposing counsel of his disbarment in any pending litigation. He also must file with the clerk of the State Bar Court that he has complied with his disbarment provisions.