Sexual harassment suit remanded on issue of excusable neglect

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Appellant-defendant BR Associates, Inc. (BR), appeals the trial court’s order denying its motion to set aside a default judgment regarding a cause of action that appellee-plaintiff Sondra J. Neal had filed against it for sexual harassment. Specifically, BR contends that the evidence presented “was more than sufficient to establish the existence of a mistake or excusable neglect due to a breakdown in communications between BR and its former counsel.” Moreover, BR argues that the trial court erred in imputing BR’s counsel’s neglect to it and that the trial court erred in determining that it waived its right to arbitration.

Conclusion (slip op. at 14):  We reverse the trial court’s judgment denying BR’s motion to set aside the default judgment and remand this cause to the trial court

Key Analysis (slip op. at 11, 14):  BR retained Owen in a timely fashion and provided him with the information and documents that were available to it. Having done so, it was entirely reasonable for BR to rely upon Owen to fulfill his professional obligations and timely defend the company against Neal’s complaint . . . BR’s earlier investigation of Neal’s accusations of sexual harassment provides it with compelling evidence that Neal is manufacturing her claims against the company in hopes of landing a windfall litigation award . . . Thus, we conclude that BR possesses sufficient evidence and facts necessary to present a meritorious defense.

About Bose McKinney & Evans LLP

Bose McKinney & Evans LLP is a business law firm, headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana, serving both publicly held and privately held businesses, governmental entities and high-growth industries. Our clients include Fortune 100 companies, international manufacturers, national and regional financial institutions, agribusinesses, sports teams, university-incubated start-ups, media, utilities, cities and schools, to name a few. We strive to build strong relationships with our clients as key business advisors, to exceed expectations in the quality of our work, to be knowledgeable about our clients’ businesses and sectors, to be responsive to service needs and to continually seek to improve the delivery of client services. Our ultimate focus is on our clients.
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