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Koutsogiannis v. BB&T - 365 S.C. 145, 616 S.E.2d 425 (2005)

Rule:

 In the attorney-client relationship, clients are generally bound by their attorneys' acts or omissions during the course of the legal representation that fall within the apparent scope of their attorneys' authority. 

Facts:

George Koutsogiannis sought damages based on BB&T f/k/a United Carolina Bank's misconduct in handling the loan and vicarious liability for the misconduct of BB&T's lawyer in trying to collect the debt and preparing a draft order for summary judgment. In an earlier appeal, a summary judgment entered for BB&T had been reversed. Koutsogiannis claimed that the lawyer engaged in dilatory tactics and intentionally sought to deceive the trial court and injure the debtor by submitting the summary judgment order. BB&T argued that it was not vicariously liable for the conduct of its attorney and that the trial court erred by failing to charge the jury on the law of independent contractor. 

Issue:

Did the trial court err by refusing to charge the jury the law of independent contractor?

Answer:

No.

Conclusion:

The Court held that the lawyer was an agent for the bank because the work and acts he engaged in, such as the settlement negotiations and the submission of a proposed summary judgment order to the trial court, were within the scope of his representation. As a result, the bank was liable for its lawyer's actions taken within his scope of representation, including possible torts committed by him. The trial court did not err by failing to charge the law of independent contractor and charging only the law of agency.

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