Home Depot USA Inc. will avoid an employee’s personal injury lawsuit because plaintiff’s attorney missed an important deadline due to an email mix-up, the Fifth Circuit confirmed, citing the incident as a “cautious story.”
Kevin Rollins is suing Home Depot for a workplace injury sustained moving a bathtub. Home Depot has filed a motion for a summary judgment. The filing notification was inadvertently filtered into part of Rollins’ attorney’s email system labeled “Other” rather than the main email inbox that received all previous filings on the case were.
As a result, the lawyer missed the deadline to respond to any requests. The district court gave Home Depot a summary judgment and later denied Rollins’ motion to change the judgment.
The U.S. Fifth District Court of Appeals upheld a warning on Monday for any attorney litigating in the age of electronic filing.
“Of course we do not question the good faith of Rollins’ attorney,” the court said. But Home Depot’s application was properly filed with the court’s electronic filing system and a notification was sent to the email address provided by Rollins’ attorney.
“The Rollins attorney was clearly in the best position to make sure his own email was working properly – certainly more so than the district court or Home Depot,” the appeals court said.
Additionally, Rollins’ attorney could have uncovered the motion by examining the files after the deadline for such filings, the court found.
“We see no principled basis to address Rollins’ forfeited reasoning” as to whether Home Depot violated its obligations to him and contributed to his injuries, the court said.
The opinion was written by Judge James C. Ho and accompanied by Judges Andrew S. Oldham and Cory T. Wilson.
Aaron Felton Allison of Austin, Texas, is representing Rollins. Bailey & Glasser LLP and Mullin Hoard & Brown LLP represent Home Depot.
The case is Rollins v Home Depot USA, 5th Cir., No. 20-50736, 8/9/21.