In re Tamara Renee Good, D2016-19 (USPTO Dir. July 11, 2016)

Michael E. McCabe, Jr.Neglect, Other, USPTO

Disposition: Exclusion from practice before the USPTO, which was unopposed by the practitioner, and which was predicated upon practitioner’s disbarment from the Court of Appeals of Maryland.  Final decision here.

Summary: A patent attorney was reciprocally excluded from practice before the USPTO predicated upon her being disbarred by the Court of Appeals of Maryland. The state court disbarment arose from her misconduct in connection with six (6) different client matters. Her misconduct included neglect, failure to communicate, failure to return unearned fees, and failure to cooperate in Maryland’s disciplinary investigation   One of the client matters giving rise to discipline related to the practitioner’s misconduct in connection with her practice of patent law.

Related Proceedings: Attorney Grievance Comm’n v. Tamara Renee Good, Misc. Docket AG No. 66, Sept. Term, 2014 & Misc. Docket AG No. 8, Sept. Term, 2015 (Md. Dec. 21, 2015)

Related to USPTO Practice?  Yes, in part, no in part.

Facts: This matter involved a Maryland-based patent attorney, Tamara Good. Ms. Good was disbarred from the practice of law in Maryland for violating the Maryland Lawyer’s Rules of Professional Conduct 1.1; 1.2(a); 1.3; 1.4(a) and (b); l.5(a); 1.15(a), (c) and (d); 1.16(d); 8.1(b); 8.4(a), (c) and (d); and § 10-306 of the Maryland Code, Business Occupations and Professions Article.

According to a December 21, 2015 Opinion issued by the Maryland Court of Appeals, Ms. Good’s disbarment arose out of six separate client complaints in which she was found to have failed to provide competent representation to her clients, failed to pursue her clients’ objectives, failed to file required documents in several of her clients’ ongoing court cases and therefore to act with reasonable diligence in representing her clients, failed to respond to clients’ inquiries about the status of their cases, failed to return unearned fees to her clients, failed to provide safekeeping of client property, failed to protect her clients’ interests when terminating representation, and failed to respond to a disciplinary authority.

Five of the six matters involved Ms. Good’s representation of various clients in U.S. District Court or Bankruptcy Court actions. The sixth matter involved Ms. Good’s representation of a client in connection with a patent application.

In one of the litigation matters, Ms. Good filed a lawsuit against Chase in the United States District Court for the District of Maryland. On April 22, 2013, Chase filed a motion to dismiss the complaint and for Rule 11 Sanctions. Ms. Good did not file a response to Chase’s Motion for Sanctions. In June 2013, Good emailed her client advising him that she was awaiting the court’s opinion. Shortly thereafter, Mr. White emailed Good requesting a status update. Later that month, the federal judge granted Chase’s motion to dismiss the amended complaint and Chase’s motion for sanctions, but granted the Whites’ motion for leave to file a second amended complaint. Good, however, never filed a second amended complaint on behalf of her clients. Her clients “repeatedly” attempted to telephone Good during the summer of 2013, but she did not return their phone calls. Despite the clients’ telephone calls and emails, Good “failed to inform Mr. and Mrs. White that their case was dismissed or file additional pleadings on their behalf.”

In another case, which involved a bankruptcy client, Ms. Good failed to respond to repeated communications from her client. The client filed a complaint with the Attorney Grievance Commission in June 2014. Bar Counsel sent Ms. Good two letters in July 2014 regarding the client’s complaint, but Ms. Good never replied to either of these letters. In September 2014, Ms. Good filed a motion to withdraw with the bankruptcy court. Ms. Good, however, did not provide her client with notice that she was withdrawing from her case.

Yet another matter involved a client who was a disabled retiree and who retained Ms. Good to file a patent application. The client paid her $2,500 in total attorney’s fees. The client provided Ms. Good with original drawings of his design for her to file with his application. Although Ms. Good initially communicated with the client, he later experienced difficulty contacting Ms. Good. Beginning in 2009 through 2013, the client continued to contact Ms. Good to arrange meetings with her, but she cancelled each of their scheduled meetings. In September 2014, Bar Counsel sent Ms. Good letters notifying her of this client’s complaint, but she failed to respond to either of these letters. Notably, the hearing judge also found that Ms. Good neither provided the client a refund of attorney’s fees for the patent application nor returned copies of his original drawings.

Ms. Good failed to participate in the disciplinary proceeding in Maryland. The circuit court judge’s findings of facts and conclusions of law thus were unrebutted.

After the Maryland Court ordered Ms. Good to be disbarred, the USPTO Director filed a complaint for reciprocal discipline and order to show cause why the USPTO should not impose the same discipline as that imposed by the Maryland Court of Appeals. Ms. Good failed to respond. Thus, the USPTO Director concluded that no genuine issue of material fact existed and that, pursuant to Section 11.24 of Title 37, identical discipline was warranted. Consequently, Ms. Good was ordered excluded from practice before the USPTO.