Brandon v. Chicago Board Of Education

143 F.3d 293 (7th Cir. 1998)


P filed an Americans with Disabilities action against the Chicago Board of Education (D) on August 2, 1995. His attorneys, entered appearances in the case, listing as their address the Law Offices of Paul F. Peters, One North LaSalle Street, Chicago. The Clerk of the United States District Court erroneously entered Paul A. Peters, another Chicago attorney, who is located at 10 South LaSalle Street, Chicago, as attorney for P. Paul A. Peters actually took the time to write to the Clerk of the district court, informing the Clerk that he was not counsel of record in the case, had no connection to the case, and was returning any materials sent to him. The Clerk's office continued its screw up. P's counsel never received notice of two different status hearings and failed to appear. After failing to appear for the second status hearing, the court dismissed the case for want of prosecution on December 13, 1995. The order dismissing the case was also sent to the wrong address. A year passed before P's counsel began to wonder what happened to the case. Upon visiting the Clerk's office in late 1996, he discovered his case had been quite active without him. One year and three days after the dismissal, Paul F. Peters filed a Rule 60 motion to vacate the judgment. Another clerical error, this one caused by P's counsel, caused the motion to be spindled under the wrong case number. When P's counsel noticed this error on the day the motion was to be heard, he pointed it out to the Clerk's office. The Clerk's office told him the motion would not be heard that day and would have to be re-noticed. P's counsel then refiled the motion under the correct case number. Before the new date for the hearing, however, P's counsel received a minute order from the court, granting the motion. As a courtesy, P's counsel sent a letter to D's counsel, stating that the motion had been granted and no appearance was necessary on the date set for hearing the motion. D's counsel appeared in court on the day of the hearing and persuaded the court to vacate its order granting Rule 60 relief. After briefing on the motion, the court ultimately denied Rule 60 relief.