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Willful Nelgect of Attorney Imputed to Client
Description Default judgement entered against businessman after a year of no response to charges filed by the SEC for securities violation upheld. Defendant's attorney engaged in willful neglect, but that neglect is imputed to the client who makes no effort to follow the disposition of the case.
Topic Court Procedure
Key Words Default Judgement, Attorney Neglect
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Shanklin was charged with various violations of federal securities laws. His attorney failed to respond to any of the motions made by the SEC, did not attend pre-trial hearings, or respond to SEC letters concerning possible settlement, and, then, its motion for default judgement, which was granted. Defendant asked the trial judge to set aside the default judgement which, he claimed, was due to his counsel's willful neglect. The judge refused to set aside the judgement. Shanklin appealed.
Court of Appeals Decision Affirmed. There is no question that Shanklin's attorney engaged in willful neglect. "Where the attorney's conduct has been found to be willful, the willfulness will be imputed to the party himself where he makes no showing that he has made any attempt to monitor counsel's handling of the lawsuit." In this case, "the record reveals a party who by his own description is a sophisticated businessman, who after being sued by the SEC apparently did not talk to his attorney for nearly a year, and who apparently received no bills during that time to indicate that any attention was being given to his case." Hence, the willful default of the attorney is imputed to Shanklin.
Citation Securities and Exchange Commission v. McNulty, ---F.3d--- (1998 WL 92745, 2nd Cir.)
137 F. 3d 732 (2nd Cir., 1998)

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