In re Petition for Disciplinary Action against Amoun Vang Sayaovong, a Minnesota Attorney, Registration No. 0388894.
Original Jurisdiction Office of Appellate Courts
M. Humiston, Director, Cassie Hanson, Senior Assistant
Director, Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility,
Saint Paul, Minnesota, for petitioner.
Vang Sayaovong, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, pro se.
Respondent misappropriated client funds when he received
funds in a garnishment proceeding for the benefit of his
clients, did not place the funds into a trust account, and
never remitted the funds to his clients.
Disbarment is the appropriate discipline for an attorney who
misappropriated client funds, charged an unreasonable fee,
failed to return unearned fees, abandoned client matters,
neglected client matters, disregarded court obligations,
engaged in the unauthorized practice of law, and failed to
cooperate with the disciplinary process.
Director of the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility
filed a petition and supplementary petition for disciplinary
action against respondent Amoun Vang Sayaovong, alleging six
counts of misconduct that occurred in Wisconsin and
Minnesota. Sayaovong did not file an answer to either
petition. We accordingly deemed the allegations admitted and
allowed the parties to file memoranda on the appropriate
discipline. Sayaovong has not filed a memorandum or otherwise
appeared in this matter. The Director asserts that the
appropriate sanction is disbarment. We agree.
was admitted to the practice of law in Minnesota in 2008. In
2015, the Director filed a petition for disciplinary action
against Sayaovong, alleging three counts of misconduct
regarding: (1) misconduct underlying a 2014 Wisconsin
disciplinary proceeding involving the Y.Y and L.V. matters;
(2) the C.D. matter in Minnesota; and (3) noncooperation with
the Director's investigation of the 2014 Wisconsin
disciplinary matters and the C.D. matter. After the Director
was unable to personally serve Sayaovong, we granted the
Director's application for an order for suspension under
Rule 12(c)(1), Rules on Lawyers Professional Responsibility
(RLPR), and gave Sayaovong 1 year to file a motion to vacate
the suspension and seek leave to answer the petition. In
re Sayaovong, No. A15-1320, Order at 1 (Minn. filed Oct.
23, 2015). Sayaovong did not file such a motion or respond to
the petition. He has not petitioned for reinstatement and has
remained suspended since October 2015.
2017, the Director filed a supplementary petition for
disciplinary action against Sayaovong, alleging three
additional counts of misconduct regarding: (1) misconduct
underlying a 2015 Wisconsin disciplinary proceeding involving
the P.S. and C.S. matter, as well as the D&D Auto
Services, LLC matter; (2) the L.J. and M.J. matter in
Minnesota; and (3) noncooperation with the Director's
investigation of the 2015 Wisconsin disciplinary matters and
the L.J. and M.J. matter. Sayaovong did not file an answer to
the supplementary petition.
Sayaovong failed to respond to either petition, we deemed the
allegations in the petition and supplementary petition
admitted. See In re Sayaovong, A15-1320, Order at
1-2 (Minn.); In re Sayaovong, A15-1320, Order at 1
(Minn. filed Nov. 15, 2016); see also Rules 12(c),
13(b), RLPR. The admitted facts are as follows.
misconduct that occurred in Wisconsin involves four client
matters: Y.Y., L.V., P.S. and C.S., and D&D Auto
represented Y.Y. in a social security administration appeal
in 2009. In re Sayaovong, 850 N.W.2d 940, 942 (Wis.
2014). Y.Y. paid Sayaovong a $2, 000 retainer fee.
Id. Sayaovong submitted the appeal, but then abandoned
Y.Y.'s matter and took no further action. Id.
Sayaovong never sent a copy of the appeal to Y.Y.
client filed a grievance against Sayaovong with the Office of
Lawyer Regulation (OLR) in Wisconsin. Id. Other than
providing a new address, Sayaovong failed to respond to any
of the OLR's communications regarding the Y.Y. matter.
Id. at 943. Sayaovong also did not respond to the
Wisconsin Supreme Court's order to show cause, and was
consequently suspended for 3 months until he satisfactorily
responded to the OLR. Id.
hired Sayaovong to represent him in his immigration removal
proceedings in 2010. Id. at 944. Sayaovong received
a $4, 000 retainer but never placed it into a trust account.
Id. Two months later, L.V. terminated Sayaovong and
requested an accounting of his fees and a refund of $2, 000.
Id. Sayaovong told L.V. that the retainer was a
nonrefundable flat fee, even though there was no written fee
agreement, and Sayaovong never provided L.V. with an
also filed a grievance against Sayaovong with the OLR.
Id. Sayaovong did not cooperate with the OLR's
investigation of the L.V. matter until the Wisconsin Supreme
Court ordered him to show cause as to why his license should
not be suspended. Id.
filed a complaint in the Wisconsin Supreme Court regarding
the Y.Y. and L.V. matters. Id. at 942. The court
held that Sayaovong was in default, the allegations in the
complaint were established, and Sayaovong had committed seven
counts of misconduct. Id. at 946. Sayaovong was
publicly reprimanded and ordered to make restitution of $2,
000 to Y.Y. and $2, 000 to L.V. Id. Sayaovong has
not made restitution to either client.
and C.S. Matter
represented P.S. and C.S. in an accident case in 2009. In
re Sayaovong, 871 N.W.2d 271, 272 (Wis. 2015). The
clients received a favorable judgment of $6, 500, and the
defendant's employer sent garnished funds to Sayaovong to
be paid to P.S. and C.S. Id. Sayaovong did not
notify the clients upon receipt of the funds but issued
checks to them periodically. Id. at 272-73. On one
occasion, Sayaovong received a garnishment check, did not
deposit it into a trust account, and never sent a
corresponding check to P.S. and C.S., despite the clients
questioning him about the missing ...