Denton lawyer Rodney William “Rocky” Haire’s license will be temporarily suspended starting Thursday — three years after one of his clients found out he hadn’t disbursed funds he received in 2014 from insurance in a car crash settlement.
Jacqueline Johnson of Denton was in a car crash in 2014 in Gainesville as she was leaving work. She said a truck T-boned her vehicle at a four-way stop, and an ambulance took her to the local hospital, but she had to be transferred to a Denton hospital when they realized her back was fractured. It was at this time she decided she needed an attorney.
According to records, Johnson’s case was settled in November 2014, but Haire hadn’t consulted her. When she asked about her settlement money over the course of four years, Haire falsely claimed her case wasn’t yet settled. She said she was owed $200,000.
“Every time I went to the office, he was telling me the same thing [that my case was almost settled], and I started getting suspicious,” Johnson said. “I called the insurance company myself.”
She said a woman on the phone told her that her case had been settled in November 2014 — six months after the crash in May.
“She said, ‘Ms. Johnson, your case was settled in 2014,’” Johnson said. “He received a check of $200,000.”
Johnson said she confronted Haire, livid because he had lied to her for four years. She then went to the State Bar of Texas to file a complaint.
“When Rodney found out that I went to the bar association … first, he accused me of trying to ruin his career,” she said. “I said I’m not trying to ruin your career, you did.”
Johnson said she told him she’d drop the complaint after he gave her the money she was owed — but she didn’t. She said she received a check for $72,000, adding it was the remaining balance.
Court records show Haire told Johnson he could advance her money against any future settlement. This was $45,202 from 2016 to 2018, while she thought she was waiting for her settlement to be finalized, records say.
The state bar’s evidentiary panel found Haire settled Johnson’s case without consulting her, failed to provide a breakdown of the settlement disbursement, misrepresented the status of her case, failed to carry out obligations owed to Johnson and failed to provide her with a written statement of the outcome.
Haire will be suspended from practicing law from July 15, 2021, through July 14, 2022, with an active suspension running from July 15 to Oct. 14. The probated suspension will begin in October.
“During the active suspension portion, the attorney cannot practice law,” said Claire Reynolds, a spokesperson for the State Bar of Texas’ Office of the Chief Disciplinary Counsel. “Once that term expires and the probated suspension begins, the attorney can practice law, as long as they abide by the terms of the probation.”
Johnson said she didn’t think the temporary suspension was enough.
“I don’t think the suspension was long enough considering what he did,” she said. “He lied, he falsified documents, he didn’t pay all my medical bills like he said he was going to do. … I was glad that the case was over. I was glad that he received some type of punishment. I just didn’t feel like it was enough.”
Neither Haire nor his attorney, Griffin W. Collie, returned a call for comment by Wednesday evening.