New York-based lawyer Lina Franco had missed a November 23, 2016 filing deadline for a motion for class certification in a wage-and-hour law suit. Missing deadlines is a lawyer n0-no, and can get you sanctioned, sued, fired, or worse. Luckily, Franco had an excuse, or so she thought. She filed for an extension 16 days past the deadline, claiming that she had been forced to leave the country for the family emergency. She even submitted a flight itinerary showing she had flown from New York City to Mexico City on Thursday, November 21, and had remained there until December 8.
Let’s call this particular social media gaffe Ferris Bueller’s Mistake. For Instagram photos from Franco’s public account indicated that she was in New York City and later Miami during that period. You know, like when Ferris turned up on TV at a ball game when he was supposedly sick in bed? Like that. There was another teeny problem: November 21, 2016 was a Monday, not a Thursday, as the judge sanctioning Franco $10,000 pointed out in his ruling.
Franco now admits that she had gone to Mexico City earlier in November than she said, but that her mother’s medical diagnosis sent her “into a tailspin” causing her to miss the deadline and to submit the false itinerary.
Now watch Instagram posts show up from Franco’s mother, with photos of her winning a seniors kickboxing tournament.
For all you lawyers out there—this part of the story is a bit more technical—Fanco’s co-counsel is also in ethics trouble. Franco was local counsel in the suit, which means that she was hired by another lawyer to handle aspects of a lawsuit in a jurisdiction where the lawyer in charge of the case wasn’t licensed to practice. That lawyer, John Troy, was admitted pro hac vice to New York, for the case. Troy told the court he had emailed the motion papers on the afternoon of the deadline and had assumed Franco to file them. Ah, but a lawyer is ethically bound to supervise local counsel, and he didn’t. HIS excuse is that he didn’t follow up to make sure the papers were filed because Franco had always been reliable in the past.
Old Reliable Lina has the gall now to appeal the sanction against her, arguing that it was all Troy’s fault for not supervising her. I wonder if his duty of supervision includes explaining the dangers of social media? The judge rejected that argument once already, writing, “Even assuming, solely for the sake of argument, that Mr. Troy had a duty to supervise Ms. Franco and was somehow derelict in discharging that duty, such dereliction falls well short of the standard to impose sanctions.”
Besides, if Lina were culturally literate (as we all should be) Sir Walter Scott had already provided sufficient supervision to warn Franco about this botch, in his 1808 poem “Marmion”:
O, what a tangled web we weave, When first we practise to deceive!
I think Walt may have even mentioned Instagram in the poem somewhere…