West Virginia Record

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Fairnont attorney Niggemyer faces suspension

By Steve Korris | Sep 21, 2006

CHARLESTON – Attorney Michael Niggemyer of Fairmont should stop practicing law until he complies with a disciplinary order of the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals, according to the state Office of Disciplinary Counsel.

The Supreme Court of Appeals has set an Oct. 24 hearing on possible suspension of Niggemyer's license.

The Justices last year reprimanded Niggemyer for spending proceeds of a settlement on his own expenses instead of paying a client's medical bills.

The Justices ordered him to take classes in ethics and office management. They required quarterly reports from him and annual reports from an accountant.

Niggemyer has produced no evidence that he complied, according to attorney Rachael Fletcher in the Office of Disciplinary Counsel.

Niggemyer was admitted to the West Virginia bar in 1990.

Former clients filed complaints against him in 1993 and 1998, but the Lawyer Disciplinary Board found no violations.

In 2000 Connie Cunningham retained Niggemyer in a personal injury claim. He negotiated a $17,200 settlement.

Cunningham and Niggemyer agreed that he would receive $4,300, she would receive $7,500, and the remaining $5,400 would pay her bills.

Before long Cunningham started receiving calls from collection agencies, demanding payment of her bills.

She tried to reach Niggemyer but could not.

In 2001 Cunningham filed an ethics complaint against Niggemyer.

In 2002 she retained attorney Jeffrey Ray to recover her funds.

Niggemyer agreed to pay $5,000 to Cunningham and $1,000 to Ray.

Ray received his fee 15 months later.

The settlement did not resolve the ethics complaint.

A subcommittee of the Lawyer Disciplinary Board filed charges in 2003 and held a hearing in 2004.

The board found that Niggemyer apparently covered a house payment with Cunningham's money.

After the hearing Niggemyer's attorney, Sherri Goodman, negotiated a stipulation that provided for a reprimand.

Niggemyer agreed to take 12 hours of classes in ethics and office management.

He agreed to send the board quarterly reports on client funds for two years and he agreed to hire a certified public accountant for two annual reports on client funds.

The board presented the stipulation to the Supreme Court of Appeals last year. The Justices entered an order approving it.

This February, disciplinary counsel Rachael Fletcher advised Niggemyer by letter that he had not complied with the order.

In March Fletcher and Niggemyer spoke on the phone, and Fletcher followed with a letter warning that the Court would take further action.

In May Fletcher petitioned the Justices to issue a rule for Niggemyer to show why the Court should not hold him in contempt.

She requested immediate suspension of Niggemyer's license.

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