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United States v. 7108 West Grand Avenue

15 F.3d 632 (1994)

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United States v. 7108 West Grand Avenue

United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

15 F.3d 632 (1994)

Facts

The United States (plaintiff) began forfeiture proceedings against three parcels of property Feliberto Flores (defendant) allegedly bought with money from his drug-dealing business. Feliberto said that he and his wife, Isabellita, retained attorney Robert Habib to represent them in the forfeiture proceeding, but Habib did not file any timely claims on Feliberto’s behalf and filed a claim on Isabellita’s behalf for only one parcel. When the United States moved for default judgment with respect to 7108 West Grand Avenue, Habib opposed the motion on behalf of Isabellita without claiming she had an ownership interest in the property. Only Feliberto appeared on the title, as Isabellita claimed another attorney had failed to transfer joint ownership to her name. Habib did not request a stay, and neither he nor Isabellita appeared at the hearing. The district court granted default judgment, and Habib did not timely appeal. After retaining new counsel, Feliberto and Isabellita filed a motion for relief from the judgment, arguing they had good defenses to the forfeiture action but Habib failed to file them on time. The district court denied the motion. Feliberto and Isabellita appealed, insisting that Habib’s conduct was grossly negligent—more than negligent but not intentional misconduct—to avoid the rule that attorney errors and deliberate misconduct are attributed to the clients.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Easterbrook, J.)

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