Q: I an looking for a civil attorney to represent me on the court of the fifth court of appeal. I was sued by an individual
Autopedia Inc sold a used vehicle to a customer who signed a form acknowledging that the odometer reading was not accurate. The buyer later filed a lawsuit in the 192nd District Court, and despite our filing a motion to compel arbitration, the court issued a default judgment without allowing us to defend ourselves. We are now appealing the decision and are required to have a licensed attorney. We remain committed to seeking justice based on the facts and agreements signed by the buyer.
I am an appellate lawyer who regularly practices before the Fifth Court of Appeals in Dallas. I charge $450 per hour. Because the time spent on an appeal is heavily front-loaded, I typically require an initial retainer of $25,000 to handle a direct or restricted appeal from a default judgment. This amount will typically cover the time and expenses associated with reviewing the appellate record, researching the applicable law, and preparing the brief of appellant. It is highly unlikely that the court of appeals will require, or grant, a request for oral argument in such a case.
As I am sure you are aware, a corporation or limited liability company can only appear in court (other than a justice of the peace court) through a licensed attorney at law. Anything filed by the owner, manager, officer, or employee of such a business entity (such as a motion to compel arbitration) is completely ineffective unless that individual is also a licensed attorney. A motion to compel arbitration does not excuse or substitute for the filing of a written answer to a lawsuit.
That's not to say that you cannot win an appeal. Properly securing a default judgment requires a modicum of skill and attention to detail. Default judgments are not favored by the law so strict compliance with the applicable rules is vital. A lot of default judgments are reversed on appeal. Being a direct appeal from a default judgment certainly means you have a better chance of winning on appeal than if you were appealing from a summary judgment or adverse trial result.
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