Non-receipt of Court Order Leads to Default?
Sort of. The lawyer had an email issue.
In this case (Russo v. Network Solutions, Inc. / N.D. Cal. No. C 07-3401 MMC), Defendant Domain Deluxe filed a motion to set aside a default. The local rules require a chambers copy to be lodged, and Domain Deluxe failed to do so. The court issued an order requiring Domain Deluxe to lodge the chambers copy by a certain date [pdf] and advising that a failure to do so would result in the motion being stricken. Domain Deluxe failed to lodge the chambers copy (or tried unsuccessfully to do so via email), and the court strikes the hearing on the set aside.
Domain Deluxe's counsel then files a motion to reconsider [pdf], apparently on the court's suggestion. It turns out Domain Deluxe's lawyer's IT guy had disabled the email address on file with the court's system, so Domain Deluxe's lawyer never received the court's order requiring it to lodge the chambers copy. Here's the lawyer's declaration: [pdf]. I guess the lawyer obtained proof from the ecf folks which conclusively demonstrated that the court's order was not delivered to the lawyer via email. Here's the exhibit attached to the declaration which is the cm/ecf log, showing a hard bounce: [pdf].
I'm not sure what to say, and it will be interesting to see how the court rules. At the end of the day, it's difficult for a party's case to live or die depending on their lawyer's receipt of an email. On the other hand, maintaining and checking an email address which receives ecf notices is no different than opening your mail and otherwise keeping yourself apprised of applicable deadlines. Everyone's gotta do it, and everyone should know that failing to comply with deadlines and procedural rules can be costly. The double whammy here is that the party was seeking to set aside a default, and failed to comply with a procedural rule that it should have known about in the first place. Still, it's a bummer to have your motion stricken.
I've said it before and I'll say it again. It would be incredibly simple for someone to set up a feathers-like program which logs in to the pacer system and checks for any orders (on a daily basis). It doesn't matter how good your email system is, there's always bound to be something which falls through the cracks.