The Appellate Group

Wallace v. Niels Fugal Sons

Wallace v. Niels Fugal Sons, 2022 UT App 111 (Mortensen, J.)

Civil Procedure

Wallace was injured in a bike crash and later sued Defendant. A trial date was set, and one of Wallace’s counsel withdrew. Wallace believed she was proceeding pro se, and the remaining attorney of record believed she had also withdrawn. Wallace petitioned the court for more time to find a new attorney. She eventually found a new attorney, who did not know about the trial. Wallace’s old remaining attorney eventually withdrew to “clarify” that she had already withdrawn. Wallace failed to file her disclosures on time, and the district court granted Defendant’s motion to exclude Wallace’s witnesses and documents—and then dismissed the case. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding:

  • The district court did not abuse its discretion in granting Defendant’s motion to exclude Wallace’s documents and witnesses and in dismissing her case. Here, Wallace did not timely file her pretrial disclosures, her failure to disclose was not harmless to Defendant, and she cannot show good cause for her failure, because she was in fact represented at the time the disclosures were due.
  • The court did not violate Wallace’s due process rights. She was never compelled to act pro se, and there is no evidence that Wallace ever, in fact, acted pro se during the critical point at which her disclosures were due.
  • Of note: Counsel may not withdraw once a trial date has been set, except upon motion and order of the court. Utah R. Civ. P. 74(a).

Read the full court opinion