… or "Is you is, or is you ain’t."
In Crowder v. Altegra Credit Co., et al., Adv. No. 06-6067, 2006 Bankr. LEXIS 1356 (Bankr. N.D. Ga. July 7, 2006) (Massey), the Law Firm filed an answer on behalf of the three named defendants. The Law Firm subsequently served discovery responses on behalf of only two defendants. The Firm stated that it had only filed a "protective answer" on behalf of the defendants, and was later authorized to represent only two of them. However, in spite of this, the Law Firm thereafter served discover responses on behalf of the allegedly unrepresented defendant, albeit responses that were not verified under oath as required by the rules.
Plaintiff filed a motion to strike the answer of the allegedly unrepresented defendant, and a motion for sanctions against the lawyers who filed the answer based upon their lack of authorization to represent the defendant. Only one defendant filed a response to the motion – but it was not the unrepresented defendant whose answer was at issue. That defendant stated that it had authorized the Law Firm to file a "protective answer" on behalf of all three defendants.
The Court struck the answer of the unrepresented defendant, finding that the answer was never ratified by the defendant and there is no such thing as a "protective answer." Moreover, the answer was not even an answer; rather, it was "what [the Law Firm] imagined would be its answer if [defendant] ever decided to answer and employ [Law Firm] to file it." The request for Rule 9011 sanctions was denied.