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Fennell v. TLB Kent Co.

United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
865 F.2d 498 (1989)


Louis Fennell (plaintiff) sued TLB Kent Co. (defendant) for wrongful termination. Fennell’s attorney and opposing counsel agreed to a $10,000 settlement. The United States District Court for the Southern District of New York dismissed the case and accepted the settlement. Fennell told the court and his attorneys that he was unhappy with the settlement and refused to sign the release. Fennell fired his lawyers, who wrote to the court asking that the case be reinstated because Fennell no longer accepted the settlement. After a status conference and hearing to consider reinstatement, the court held that Fennell’s attorneys had apparent authority to settle and Fennell was bound. The court found that Fennell authorized his attorneys to represent him in settlement conferences, allowed his attorneys to negotiate, would have accepted a bigger settlement, and never told opposing counsel that his attorneys did not have settlement power. Fennell appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, claiming that the failure to vacate the dismissal and reinstate the case was an abuse of discretion.

Rule of Law

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Holding and Reasoning (Mahoney, J.)

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  • A "yes" or "no" answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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