Neil J. Lewis, the longtime Baltimore personal injury lawyer who agreed to disbarment last year, died Friday. He was 73.
A cause of death could not be confirmed. His wife, Andrea, declined to comment Monday morning when reached at the couple’s home in Stevenson.
Neil Lewis, who was a member of the Maryland Bar for nearly 50 years, was known for appearing in television commercials inviting people to call the “Lewis Law Line,” which was also his firm’s website.
Lewis was disbarred after being accused by the Attorney Grievance Commission of multiple violations of the Rules of Professional Conduct, including knowingly using client trust funds for unauthorized purposes. Bar Counsel in July took the rare step of seeking to stop Lewis from practicing law in the Maryland before the Court of Appeals could decide whether to sanction him in a disciplinary action.
The Attorney Grievance Commission had two cases open against Lewis. One case stemmed from Lewis’ representation of clients injured in a May 2010 accident. A hearing judge assigned by the Court of Appeals to investigate the case, Baltimore City Circuit Judge Melissa Phinn, wrote in her findings in February 2014 that settlement checks Lewis deposited on behalf of his clients were used for unauthorized purposes.
“It is apparent to this Court that [Lewis] believes he can use the monies in his attorney trust accounts for whatever purpose as long as the clients get paid in the long run and he does not bounce any checks,” Phinn wrote.
Lewis told Phinn that he acted “in good faith and in the best interest of his clients” and any rules violations were “inadvertent and the result of his hectic and very busy work schedule,” according to the judge’s findings.
Lewis had approximately 800 cases open during the year he was investigated, Phinn’s opinion said.
The second case, filed in July, accused Lewis of failing to deliver funds owed to Injury Treatment Center of Maryland LLC, which had worked with Lewis’ clients for many years. Lewis also was accused of “regularly misrepresenting” to clients that funds were being withheld from settlement proceeds to pay the treatment center.
In some cases where Injury Treatment Center filed suit against Lewis’ clients for unpaid bills, “Lewis entered an appearance as counsel for the defendant without defendant’s knowledge … for the purpose of attempting to settle cases while concealing his prior misappropriations,” Bar Counsel alleged.
The unpaid bills have led doctors’ offices to sue Lewis’ former clients to recover the money.
A funeral for Lewis was held Sunday at Sol Levinson & Bros., Inc. in Pikesville.
In addition to his wife, Lewis is survived by three children and six grandchildren.