Attorney and Client – Scope of Attorney’s Authority – Client Bound by Wrongful Settlement of Claim

Plaintiff hired an attorney to prosecute a claim for damages resulting from the alleged negligence of defendant, a chiropodist, in the treatment of plaintiff’s wife. Three years after the institution of the suit plaintiff discovered that his attorney had agreed with defendant to settle the suit and had forged plaintiff’s name to a release and to a bank draft given by defendant in settlement of the claim. Plaintiff immediately instituted action to have the settlement stipulation deleted from the record and to have the case reinstated for hearing. On appeal from the trial court’s decision for plaintiff, held, reversed. While the mere engagement of an attorney does not imply authority to compromise the claim, in the instant case defendant was justified in assuming that the attorney was authorized to effect a compromise. Of two innocent parties before the court the one more responsible for the wrong should bear the loss. Cohen v. Goldman, (R.I. 1957) 132 A. (2d) 414.