×

Attorney Ragan suspended from his legal practice

State high court: Excessive fees, misconduct charged

Wailuku attorney Stuart Ragan has been suspended from practicing law for one year and one day and ordered to pay $30,445 in restitution to his clients.

The state Supreme Court ordered the disciplinary actions Jan. 30.

The order prohibits Ragan from accepting new retainers. Through Feb. 29, he may complete work on behalf of clients in matters that were pending on Jan. 30.

The Office of Disciplinary Counsel charged Ragan with various violations of the Hawaii Rules of Professional Conduct in December 2016. After the breakdown of mediation efforts, the charges proceeded to a formal hearing.

In May 2018, a hearing officer’s report found nine violations by Ragan, according to an Office of Disciplinary Counsel news release.

After a review, the Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court “adopted in part the hearing officer’s findings, and found the charging of excessive fees for incompetent work the most egregious misconduct,” the news release says. The board concluded that Ragan violated rules of competence, diligence, communications, fees, conflicts of interest, unmeritorious claims and contentions and misconduct by failing to cooperate in the course of a disciplinary proceeding.

According to a petition filed in court, the violations involved a Pukalani couple who retained Ragan in March 2011 to represent them in a possible foreclosure. After receiving a flyer in the mail from Ragan saying he could save their home from foreclosure, the couple called Ragan, who advised them not to speak with their mortgage lender and said they did not have to continue paying their mortgage, according to the petition.

The couple’s agreement with Ragan created a lien against all real estate owned by the couple for any unpaid balance resulting from Ragan’s representation, the petition says.

Ragan signed some court documents in Tucson, Ariz., and Santiago, Chile, the petition says, and had other attorneys appear in court for him.

The petition says Ragan charged the couple $300 an hour for telephone conferences, billing them for 68 calls during one period when they spoke with him only a few times and for 36 calls during another period when they never spoke with him.

Under Supreme Court rules, attorneys who are suspended for more than one year cannot be reinstated until they “can show proof . . . by clear and convincing evidence” of their rehabilitation, fitness to practice law, competence and compliance with disciplinary or disability orders and rules and any other requirements imposed by the Supreme Court.

Ragan, 60, was admitted to the Hawaii bar in 1995. He is a graduate of Washburn University School of Law in Topeka, Kan.

Ragan couldn’t be reached for comment Tuesday.

* Lila Fujimoto can be reached at lfujimoto@mauinews.com.