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Wednesday, June 12, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Lawyer Fined for Picking Euro Trip Instead of Trial

(CN) - A Pennsylvania lawyer who took a European vacation when she was supposed to represent the state department of corrections at trial in an employment-discrimination suit must pay $2,500 to opposing counsel, a federal magistrate ruled.

Gwendolyn Mosley's conduct was a "sad coda to a government service career spanning more than three decades," U.S. Magistrate Judge Martin Carlson ruled last week, saying it was a "troubling and extraordinary circumstance" that Mosley failed to disclose her "scheduling conflict" to the court, opposing counsel or her own supervisors for five months.

Carlson also took Mosley to task for challenging the sanctions proceedings against her on the basis that she had been denied due process because she was not properly notified of the proceedings or had a chance to be heard.

"This is an extraordinary assertion," Carlson said, "In fact, there is, perhaps, some unintended irony to this belated claim, since defense counsel [Mosley] provided the court and the parties in this litigation absolutely no notice of her intention to forego the pretrial conference and trial preparation in this case in May of 2011, but now complains that she received inadequate notice of these sanctions proceedings, proceedings which stemmed from her wholesale failure to provide any notice of material facts to the court and opposing counsel."

This is the second time the Mosley has been sanctioned for her conduct representing Pennsylvania in O'Donnell v. Pennsylvania Department of Corrections in Scranton.

In February 2011 she was sanctioned for her "lack of candor" and "her persistent failure to disclose material facts to the court and opposing counsel" during settlement discussions when, according to the sanctions order, Mosley "led a mediator and plaintiff's counsel to believe that this case had settled, and then permitted the court to dismiss the case based upon this reported settlement", even though the Department of Corrections never agreed to such a settlement.

Judge Carlson admonished Mosley at that time to be more candid in her dealings so that the resolution of the case would be more efficient.

Apparently Mosley did not take Carlson's words to heart because the approach of her vacation date coincided with her missing pretrial deadlines, not filing jury instructions on time and not responding to several plaintiff motions.

Finally, on May 6, hours before she got on a plane to Spain, Mosley filed a motion titled "Unopposed Motion for Continuance" in which she did not reveal that she had left the country and would miss all pretrial meetings, or that the other side was very much opposed to a continuance. On May 9, upon learning that Mosley had left the country, Carlson was forced to grant a continuance of the case.

In an earlier order Carlson determined that monetary sanctions were appropriate but denied O'Donnell's motion for a default judgment on her behalf or any other sanction that would impact the underlying suit.

While Carlson considered imposing a sanction of $7,200 to cover the pre-trial preparation fees of opposing counsel, he settled on the $2,500 figure saying the lesser fee was warranted because Mosley was leaving government service and because it seems the minimum needed to deter Mosley from such behavior in the future.

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