Following the death of their long-time client, Bud Koons, father and son legal partners, Dick and Nick Ward of Drew & Ward, Co., L.P.A. teamed up to bring a lawsuit against their long-time clients. Though that lawsuit (the “Cundall” case) was ultimately dismissed by the Ohio Supreme Court, the Wards helped themselves to Bud Koons, his trusts, and Central Investment LLC’s (“CI LLC”) confidential and privileged files to use in a lawsuit against them.
See article regarding Michael K. Cundall, et. al. v. U.S. Bank, N.A, Predecessor Trustee, et al.
See a July 27, 2008 Cincinnati Enquirer article detailing the Wards’ misuse of privileged and confidential documents in the Cundall litigation.
To protect the confidential documents from further misuse, Bud Koons’s estate, his trusts, and CI LLC filed a Complaint for malpractice, breach of fiduciary duty, replevin, and conversion. The Complaint also included a breach of contract action that CI LLC brought against Dick Ward for violating a consulting agreement that he had entered into with the company that was designed to keep Ward’s experience and knowledge available to CILLC in return for a five year monthly payment totaling $1.25 million, of which Ward had already been paid $312,500.
The Wards and their firm fought returning Bud Koons, the trusts, and CI LLC’s documents. Nevertheless, in a series of orders Judge Steven Martin ordered their return.
Following contentious discovery, we moved for partial summary judgment on the malpractice, breach of fiduciary duty, replevin, and conversion claims. After Judge Martin granted partial summary judgment on CI LLC’s breach of the consulting contract claim, but before he ruled on the other outstanding summary judgment motions, the parties entered into a settlement agreement by which $5,000,000 was paid on behalf of the Wards and their law firm Drew & Ward to settle all claims against them except for the breach of contract claim. The Court granted summary judgment on that claim awarding CILLC the $312,500 it had paid to Ward and determining that he should receive no future payments. See the review in a March 6, 2009 Cincinnati Enquirer article detailing the break-up of Drew & Ward and the Wards’ partners’ comments about the Cundall litigation.
Ward appealed the breach of contract claim to the Ohio First District Court of Appeals which affirmed all of Judge Martin’s decision on December 15, 2010. The Court of Appeals determined that Ward had both breached his express duties under the consulting agreement and had violated the implied duty of good faith and fair dealing inherent in any contract. The Supreme Court of Ohio refused to accept Ward’s request for further review. With interest CILLC has recovered more than $350,000 from Ward plus the Court negated any obligation by CILLC to pay Ward the remainder of the $1.25 Million consulting contract.
On March 30, 2012, the Ohio Board of Commissioners on Grievances and Discipline through its Disciplinary Counsel filed complaints against both Nick and Dick Ward charging both with violations of numerous provisions of the Code of Professional Responsibility and Rules of Professional Conducts. See complaints from Nick Ward and Richard Ward Dick Ward then resigned his law license rather than contest the Complaint. Three Commissioners were appointed to determine if the Wards should be disciplined pursuant to Rule V of the Rules of Government of the Bar of Ohio. After an evidentiary hearing the panel ruled against Nick Ward and the Board adopted the panel’s decision on December 12, 2013.