Legal negligence is legal negligence whether it was committed by an in-house attorney or retained counsel, the California’s 4th District Court of Appeal held last week.

Nor does it matter if the negligent in-house counsel was also a corporate officer, so long as his negligent actions were tied to his legal duties, the court ruled. So when the general counsel of G&M Oil Co. all but ignored a wage-and-hour class action filed by a company employee, an Orange County, Calif., trial judge properly set aside the $4 million default judgment, Justice David Sills wrote for the unanimous appellate court (pdf).

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