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In re Petition for Leave to Appeal of Runge

Supreme Court of North Dakota

February 12, 2015

In the Matter of the Petition for Leave to Appeal of Gregory Ian Runge Gregory Ian Runge, Petitioner
v.
Disciplinary Board of the North Dakota Supreme Court, Respondent

Application for Disciplinary Action.

Thomas A. Dickson, Bismarck, N.D., for petitioner.

Kara J. Johnson, Disciplinary Counsel, Bismarck, N.D., for respondent.

Gerald W. VandeWalle, C.J., Daniel J. Crothers, Lisa Fair McEvers, Carol Ronning Kapsner, Dale V. Sandstrom.

OPINION

Page 902

Per Curiam.

[¶1] Attorney Gregory Ian Runge appeals from a Disciplinary Board decision affirming the Inquiry Committee West determination to admonish him for violating N.D.R. Prof. Conduct 1.14 relating to representation of a client with limited capacity. The record does not clearly and convincingly establish Runge violated N.D.R. Prof. Conduct 1.14, and we dismiss the complaint.

I

[¶2] On September 17, 2009, Norman Franz executed a " durable unlimited power of attorney" authorizing his daughter, Rose Pfeifer, to act as his attorney-in-fact for decisions about his finances and property and explicitly precluding anyone from making medical or health care decisions for him. The power of attorney appointed another daughter, Susan Ternes, as successor attorney-in-fact if Pfeifer refused to act, and both daughters accepted their appointments. The printed power of attorney form notified Franz:

" By signing this document, you are not giving up any powers or rights to control your finances and property yourself. In addition to your own powers and rights, you are giving another person, your attorney-in-fact, broad powers to handle your finances and property, which may include powers to encumber, sell or otherwise dispose of any real or personal property without advance notice to you or approval by you."

The form also advised, " You have the right to revoke the designation of the attorney-in-fact and the right to revoke this entire document at any time and in any manner."

[¶3] In September 2012, shortly after his 79th birthday, Franz suffered a heart attack, and he began living at the Missouri Slope Lutheran Care Center on October 30, 2012. On October 31, 2012, medical personnel at Missouri Slope executed an " emergency care statement" form for Franz, which was included in his records. The form had checked boxes indicating Franz was " incapable of making medical decisions" and his " code status" was " Level 2 . . . No defibrillation, no chest compression, no artificial respiration . . . transfer to the hospital." The emergency care statement was signed by Pfeifer on a line designating her as a " responsible party."

[¶4] Franz lived at Missouri Slope until April 2013, when Runge prepared a document to revoke the September 17, 2009 power of attorney. According to Runge, he received a telephone call from Franz's friend, Ida Giesinger, on March 30, 2013, stating Franz wanted to leave the nursing home and asking Runge for legal advice. Runge said he asked Giesinger several questions to determine the nature of the matter, including why Franz was in the nursing home and whether a guardianship or conservatorship for him existed. Giesinger told Runge about Franz's heart attack and that there was not a guardianship or conservatorship, but Franz had executed a power of attorney naming his daughter as his attorney-in-fact. Runge asserted he told Giesinger that because no guardianship or conservatorship existed, all Franz needed to do to leave the nursing ...


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