Cases & Deals

Successful representation of a disabled senior citizen who sought to vacate a default judgment entered against him

Clients Client JS

Andrew Fiorella, with supervision from Rick Stuhan, successfully concluded our representation of a disabled senior citizen who sought to vacate a default judgment entered against him. Discovery uncovered that plaintiff had no evidence to support its claims against our client and further, plaintiff had undertaken almost no pre-filing investigation before naming him as a defendant. Until he lost his vision in 1997, our client worked as a licensed property appraiser and mortgage broker. More than a year after the client shuttered his business, plaintiff's former employee fraudulently used our client's brokerage license to close stolen loan accounts. The renegade employee then pocketed the commissions and fled the area, never to be seen again. Our client had no connection with that scheme, apart from being another victim of the fraud. This injustice was compounded by the fact that he was never properly served. Indeed, he was not even aware that a default judgment had been entered against him until he applied for a reverse mortgage on his home years later.

After the trial court summarily denied its motion to vacate, Jones Day appealed that decision to the Ohio Court of Appeals for the Eighth District. The Appeals Court agreed with Jones Day that the trial court erred in not holding an evidentiary hearing on our client's claim that he was never served with the complaint and summons.

Following remand, our client endured nine separate continuances of the evidentiary hearing. In conjunction with one of the aborted hearings, the Judge conducted his own cross-examination of our client and announced afterwards in open court in another matter that he found our client not only a credible witness, but an inspiration to disabled people generally and a credit to the community. Finally, on the eve of the most recently scheduled hearing, plaintiff agreed to an order granting our client's motion and dismissing him with prejudice from the case.