Encino attorney Donald Stephen Lucien has been publicly reproved by the California State Bar for allegedly failing to disburse funds from a 2010 personal injury case that was settled in late 2013.
Lucien did not benefit from the misconduct, according to the decision issued May 16 by the state bar, reproving the attorney. "Respondent’s culpability results from his lack of any reasonable effort for the past three years to seek to have the issue of the outstanding liens resolved," the decision said.
"In fact, he has done virtually nothing to obtain a resolution of the competing liens. He has not even written to MediCal to ask the amount of its lien. Having exercised no diligence in seeking to resolve the competing claims, he cannot justify his ongoing failure to pay out those funds by the fact that those claims are ongoing."
Lucien according to his profile at the state bar website, was admitted to the bar in California on Dec. 1, 1981. He had no previous record of disciplinary problems with the California State Bar.
Lucien was charged with three counts of misconduct, according to the decision. The state bar declined to find Lucien culpable of the first charge, failure to perform with competence, but did find him culpable of failing to notify his client that he'd received the funds and promptly paying out those funds.
Lucien's client, injured in an Aug. 31, 2010, traffic accident, in September 2013 accepted a $2,500 settlement, an amount that fell far short of litigation and medical expenses she'd incurred, according to the decision. MediCal and a local chiropractic firm had liens on the settlement.
Over the next three years, Lucien made little effort to contact his client to resolve the fund allocation issues. In February 2016, the client filed a complaint with the state bar against Lucien. At the trial that ultimately resulted in Lucien's reproval, the client testified that the medical providers have not tried to collect from her any of her medical bills.
"At trial, he [Lucien] was still in possession of the uncashed settlement check," the decision said.