Daily Decisions: It Ain’t My (De)Fault!

Fowler v. Johnson (Division 1, April 9, 2012), is an interesting little case that creates a new rule for motions to vacate an entry of default or a default judgment. The new rule might open up a can of worms… but we’ll get to that in a moment.

First, just the facts: Amber Fowler (a dermatologist) used to work for Donald Johnson (another dermatologist) before she left to go it alone. When she left, she claimed Johnson owed her over $200,000 in unpaid wages. Fowler tried to work it out on her own, but when Johnson refused to pay she hired an attorney. Fowler’s attorney sent some demand letters and actually got a few five-figure checks from Johnson. They all bounced. Eventually, Johnson cut a good check for $45,000, but that still left Fowler with $165,000 in unpaid wages.

Johnson then hired his own attorney. The two attorneys exchanged correspondence, but that broke down and the dispute was not resolved. So Fowler sued. Continue reading