“Attorneys Turn Back Their Sanctions Over Client’s Absence”

As discussed by Bloomberg Law in this article discussing the Eleventh Circuit’s decision in Miller v. Midland Credit Management, Inc., attorneys need not pay the price for a client who fails to show at a court-ordered mediation. The trial court, dissatisfied with the client’s failure to appear, directed counsel to “address whether they have regained contact with their client.” The court thereafter received an explanation from the client “that she did not attend the mediation because she was relieved of duty from work three hours late, and could not access her phone to inform her attorneys of this unexpected issue.”

The court responded with a sanctions order against both the client and her two attorneys. Reversing, the Eleventh Circuit disagreed, holding that the lower court provided no prior notification that it was considering sanctioning the attorneys. Nor did the court make a finding that the attorneys had engaged in the requisite bad faith to warrant a sanctions order against them. Sending the case back to the lower court, the Eleventh Circuit noted (“[i]It may be that the district court’s imposition of sanctions was based on a finding of bad faith and was supported by the record. At this time, however, we cannot make this determination.”

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