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Van Sickle v. Gilbert – Case Brief Summary (California)

In Van Sickle v. Gilbert (2011) 196 Cal.App.4th 1495, the former client of an attorney sued him for breach of fiduciary duty, alleging that he had mismanaged property she had obtained in a divorce. (Id. at pp. 1500-1503.)

Her complaint sought an accounting and contained no demand for a specific amount of money. (Ibid.)

She also provided no statement of an amount due her before the trial court ordered the entry of a default judgment against the attorney for discovery misconduct. (Ibid.)

In reversing the default judgment, the appellate court distinguished Cassel, noting that the complaint in that action--unlike the client's complaint--alleged that the defendant possessed the records necessary to assess the value of the potential judgment. (Id. at pp. 1526-1527.)