Settlement – Not Without the Client’s Consent!

It’s a scenario that happens often during trial –

Facts: Lawyers on both sides begin settlement negotiations while waiting for the jury to deliberate at the close of trial. Michael Alder, Plaintiff’s attorney, fearing that the jury would come back with a verdict in favor of the defendant accpeted an offer of $350,000 to settle his client case.

The attorneys informed the Judge that the case was dismissed but did not place the settlement on the record. The jury was dismissed by the Judge. When the parties and attorneys spoke to the Jurors in the hallway, the Plaintiff became aware that the Jurors were about to award him $9 Million Dollars.  He of course, “flipped out” and demanded the Judge call back the jury to enter its verdict.

Here’s the part that doesn’t usually happen!

This being California, all settlements must be in writing or on the records, so Atty. Alder advised the court that he screwed up and when he accepted the settlement on behalf of his client, he didn’t have his clients permission to do, and the settlement wasn’t placed on the record. Atty. Alder demanded a new trial on behalf of his client.

This attorney’s “oops” moment, may have worked in favor of his client, if the Court permits a new trial. Or, this attorney cost his client $8.5 Million Dollars. Status pending!