If you are going to convince a federal judge that he or should should believe you over a lawyer, you better have some solid proof, a panel of judges from the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has ruled, affirming a lower court’s ruling that a defendant in a Fair Debt Collection Practices Act case should be bound by the terms of a settlement that his attorney reached.
A copy of the ruling in the case of Piccinetti v. Clayton, Myrick, McClanahan & Coulter; Internal Credit Systems; Robert Nauseef; and Theodore Lachman can be accessed by clicking here.
Background: The defendants were sued by the plaintiff for violating the FDCPA. An attorney, representing all the defendants, settled the case. The settlement included reasonable attorney’s fees for the plaintiff, and allowed a Magistrate judge to determine what those fees should be. After making his ruling, Lachman, who was now represented by a different attorney, sought to dismiss the action, claiming that the original attorney was not representing him and that he had not been served with an amended complaint that was filed. The plaintiff then sought more money in attorney’s fees for covering Lachman’s motion, and the judge doubled the award.
The ruling: Lachman claimed that the original attorney was representing the other defendants, and lacked the authority to settle on his behalf. But the District Court believed the attorney’s account of what happened more than they believed Lachman’s and the Appeals Court determined there was nothing else that should allow them to overturn the lower court’s ruling.