Attorney Jeffery Bohn billed himself as the premier injury lawyer for the Hmong American community in Fresno. He was a former LDS missionary who spoke fluent Hmong and has practiced law since 2006. He took the name “Lis Foom” and was a recognizable figure because the community often saw his paid advertisements that was aired on local media on Hmong TV stations and KBIF 900 AM radio station. He even sponsored the annual Hmong New Year celebration and attended dressed in Hmong clothes. With his ability to speak Hmong he was able to represent many Hmong clients as their personal injury attorney.
For years there was also stories and rumors in the community about how Bohn took advantage of unsuspecting clients that were limited English speakers and not knowledgeable of the legal process. Many of these stories and rumors came true when the Fresno Bee reported on Thursday that last fall the State Bar of California disbarred Bohn. In 18 total cases against him, he was found guilty in 56 of 90 counts that included misappropriations, failing to perform legal services, did not to paid client’s bills, did not to respond to clients inquiries, and refusing to cooperate in discipline investigations.
His status as a lawyer will end on June 12, 2020. Through a review of the 70-page State Bar Hearing report I will highlight and summarize several cases how he took advantage of clients.
Read the State Bar Hearing report (public record): 441920597-Jeffrey-Bohn-State-Bar-of-California-Hearing.
T Yang (2008 & 2013)
The first involved T. Yang who retained Bohn in two separate cases from 2008 and in 2013. In the first case Yang slip and fell and the Logan Park Apartment settled for $25,000 with Yang. In 2014 Yang was sent a check for $23,675.80 which he paid himself attorney fees with about half the settlement and Yang would get the remaining amount of $11,568.63. In April of 2015, his office prepared a check for $7,568.63 to Yang which she rejected because she thought her payment would be higher. He had given her an advance of $4,000 around April of 2014.
In an unrelated case from 2013 Yang was involved in a car accident and had attained attorney K. Xiong to represent her accident claim and settled for $15,000 with Farmers Insurance. Bohn offered Yang the $4,000 advance to represent her in that case as well because she needed the money she agreed and terminated attorney Xiong. Because the settlement had already been negotiated with Xiong a check of $14,843.91 was sent to Bohn’s office with Yang, Xiong and Bohn’s names on the check. Bohn did not inform Yang the check arrived in July. He did not tell Yang until November and explained that he would charge 25% fee of $3,750, Xiong would get $5,000 for his services, $4,000 would pay back the advance, and Yang would get $2,001.58. Bohn held on to the check and did not cash it. Farmers Insurance reissued a second check in January of 2015 because it had not been cleared. The reissued check was made to only Yang and Bohn’s office to date he has not paid Xiong his $5,000 fee. Also in July of 2014 Yang was issued an underinsured claim from Progressive Insurance in the settlement amount of $10,000. He did not inform her of the check until she asked about it in October 2014. For that check his fee would be $2,500 and Yang would get $7,500. From the two payouts of the car accident Yang’s total was $9501.53. It was not until a meeting in September of 2016 he offered to pay Yang two checks for $9,236.13 and $18,501.53. In order to get the $18,501.53 check Yang had to sign an agreement to release Bohn from any liability in the case. Yang did not understand the release but signed it to get the money. In these two unrelated cases Yang was nearly $50,000 in settlements but finally received only $27,737.66 in 2016, nearly two years after the settlement checks already arrived.
J. Yang (2009)
In an earlier case from 2009 J. Yang retained Bohn to represent him in a personal injury car accident they agreed to an 25% attorney fee instead of 40%. Two years later in December 2011 State Farm issued a settlement check for $24,755.87. Bohn deposited the check in January 2012 by August of that year Yang’s medical provider cost rose to about $32,000 not include his medical services. The case went to arbitration, after Metlife issued a $20,000 settlement check for Yang’s underinsurance motorist benefit in July 2014. The next month in August Bohn gave Yang a $4,000 advance and requested to reduce Yang’s medical bills which Bohn said had total to $38,633.84. At least five of the medical provided did agree to reduce and three more the following year. Bohn cashed the $20,000 Metlife check in August and paid himself 40% of the fee in the amount of $8,222.40 when the agreed amount was 25%. There is no evidence Bohn returned any of the $3,000 that was overcharged. By January of 2015 Bohn’s office manager sent Yang via email that his potion of the settlement was -$704.40. Between September 2014 and July 2015 Yang made over twenty calls seeking a conference and status update no meaningful update was provided. Bohn claim he was still trying to negotiate reductions to Yang’s medical bills. Three years at the time of trail in 2018 Bohn has not paid any funds to Yang or any of his lienholders. Yang was award nearly $45,000 in settlement checks from 2011 and 2014.
In 2012 client T. Vang retained Bohn for representation for claims from a car accident. Three years later in 2015 the case was settled for a total of $40,000. The following month Progressive Insurance issued a $40,000 check. Bohn deposited the check on May 5, 2015 and paid himself $17,694.78 in attorney fees and costs. By July Bohn sent lien reduction requests to all of Vang’s medical providers. Vang was sent a letter detailing that her balance was -$4,534.53 but with anticipated lien reductions Vang would get a $6,240.22 payment. Bohn told Vang that he promised her a recovery of $10,000 regardless of lien reductions. By August 2015 he sent Vang a check for $10,000 and she requested to see a copy of her actual medical bills. An email was sent to Vang saying that Bohn was still negotiating Vang’s lien reductions.
These are just a few of the cases among numerous others from the State Bar Hearing Report showing a repeated pattern of deception, overcharging, not informing clients their checks arrived and failure to provide legal services. One must ask where did all the money go from these cases? What happened to the tens of thousands that should have went to clients? There are many more other cases that was not reported. Community members know also that Bohn routinely employed dozens of Hmong women as assistants, paralegals, and as his office manager. What role are they involved in these cases? How much did they know what was going with all these failures that was happening? Why were they silent when all this was going on for years? Clients often had to wait for years for settlement money if they were paid at all.
Bohn is now disbarred and can no longer practice law in the state of California but is that fair for all the years of suffering and pain he has caused to his clients and their families? What privilege looks like is in five years Bohn can petition to be reinstated if he passes certain requirements like passing a professional responsibility examination and meeting other rehabilitation and moral qualification standards. It may not be easy to be reinstated but it is not impossible.
Seng Alex Vang, Managing Editor