EXTRA CONTENT: Kentucky Supreme Court disbarred Corbin attorney the day before he died from a gunshot wound
A day before he died of an apparent gunshot wound, the Kentucky Supreme Court ruled that a prominent Corbin attorney must “permanently” cease from practicing law because of dishonest dealings he had with some of his clients.
In an opinion filed Sept. 23, Supreme Court Chief Justice John D. Minton Jr. wrote that Kyle David Kersey, 56, of Corbin, was to be “disbarred” from practicing law in Kentucky “as a result of five separate disciplinary matters that resulted in default cases” before the Kentucky Bar Association’s Board of Governors. The opinion adopted the Board’s recommendation that Kersey be disbarred.
Kersey died Friday morning after wrecking his pickup truck on KY 770 in southern Laurel County. He apparently suffered a gunshot wound to the torso some time before the accident.
The five complaints filed against Kersey involved the following:
• Brandon Mills retained Kersey to represent him after he was involved in an automobile accident. Kersey negotiated a settlement of $25,000 with Mills’s no-fault insurer, but then failed to give his client any of the proceeds. He claimed Mills’s medical expenses exceeded the amount of the settlement, but was unable to produce any evidence to show medical bills were paid from the settlement fund.
• Kersey represented Apren H. Poore following an automobile accident in March 2006 and was able to obtain a total of $35,000 from the liability insurance policy and “PIP” (Personal Injury Protection) funds. Kersey gave Poore $5,250 before settlement of liens regarding medical bills could be reached. He claimed he advanced Poore $3,050 and gave Poore’s mother $4,500. Kersey provided records that he deposited the money in his escrow account in May 2006, but records obtained in Oct. 2007 showed the account overdrawn by $107.40 and no evidence was produced to show any of Poore’s medical bills were paid from the escrow account. Poore continues to receive medical bills.
• Shawna Ellis, who was involved in the same accident with Poore, also retained Kersey as an attorney. Before settlement of medical liens could be reached, Kersey gave Ellis $4,250 from the insurance proceeds. He put the remainder in his escrow account. Despite requests from Ellis that he provide an accounting and itemization of the disbursements from the account, no evidence was produced showing any of the medical providers were paid from the money Kersey deposited.
• Wanda Godby retained Kersey to represent her on federal criminal charges. She pledged her pickup truck worth $10,000 to him as collateral for her legal fee of $5,000. After transferring the truck’s title to him in Feb. 2009, Kersey filed a motion to withdraw as her attorney. He was allowed to withdraw from the case. He sold the truck for $2,200 and did not inform her of the sale.
• The Office of Bar Counsel received overdraft notices from Cumberland Valley National Bank, where Kersey banked, on Dec. 30, 2008 regarding his escrow account. He did not respond to letters asking he correct the overdrafts. Bar Counsel filed an Inquiry Commission complaint on Sept. 15, 2009 against Kersey reflecting that a total of 19 checks totaling $10,467.66 were returned on the account for insufficient funds.
In most of the cases, Kersey failed to offer any response to the charges and was difficult to serve with the complaints. The board voted unanimously against Kersey in each case.
Minton’s opinion ordered Kersey to make restitution to all clients who filed bar complaints against him for misappropriation of funds, and that he cease any advertising of legal services and notify all clients of his inability to represent them. Also, he was to notify all courts in which he had pending matters of his disbarment from the practice of law.
Kentucky State Police Detective Donald Robinson is continuing an investigation into Kersey’s death. KSP Post 11 Public Affairs Officer Don Trosper said Friday afternoon that police were aware of Kersey’s recent troubles.
"We are looking into that. We are looking at every possible scenario. As part of that, all aspects of Mr. Kersey’s life are being reviewed," Trosper said.