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Travelers Property Casualty Company of America v. Alder Grove

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA


March 3, 2009

TRAVELERS PROPERTY CASUALTY COMPANY OF AMERICA, A CONNECTICUT CORPORATION, PLAINTIFF,
v.
ALDER GROVE, LLC, A DELAWARE LIMITED LIABILITY COMPANY, ALDER GROVE ASSOCIATES, LLC, A CALIFORNIA LIMITED LIABILITY COMPANY; ALFRED E. NEVIS, AN INDIVIDUAL, AND SACRAMENTO MADISON WOODS CONDOMINIUMS OWNERS ASSOCIATION, A CALIFORNIA CORPORATION, DEFENDANTS.

ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO WITHDRAW AS COUNSEL

The matter before the Court is attorneys Zachary Smith, Jamie M. Errecart, and Michael Wilcox's (collectively, "Withdrawing Attorneys") motion to withdraw as counsel of record in this matter for Alder Grove, LLC. ("Defendant") pursuant to Local Rule 83-182(d) and State Bar Rules 3-700(C)(1)(d) and 3-700(C)(1)(f). In their motion, Withdrawing Attorneys seek leave of Court to withdraw as counsel because Defendant has failed to pay legal fees and keep in contact with counsel. Plaintiff does not oppose the motion.*fn1

According to Local Rule 83-182(d), "an attorney who has appeared may not withdraw leaving the client in propria persona without leave of Court upon noticed motion and notice to the client and all other parties who have appeared." Further, an attorney seeking to withdraw under Local Rule 83-182(d) "shall provide an affidavit stating the current or last known address or addresses of the client and the efforts made to notify the client of the motion to withdraw." E.D. Cal. L.R. 83-182(d). A motion to withdraw as attorney of record is governed by the Rules of Professional Conduct of the State Bar of California. Id.

California Rule of Professional Conduct 3-700(C)(1)(d) provides that an attorney may request permission to withdraw if the client "by other conduct renders it unreasonably difficult for the member to carry out the employment effectively." California Rule of Professional Conduct 3-700(C)(1)(f) provides that an attorney may request permission to withdraw if the client "breaches an agreement or obligation to the member as to expenses or fees." See California v. M & P Investments, 2007 WL 3119666, *2 (E.D. Cal. 2007) (failure to pay attorneys' fees may be grounds for withdrawal). In California, withdrawal is proper when the client's interest will not be unduly prejudiced or delayed. Id. (citing Ramirez v. Sturdevant, 21 Cal.App.4th 904, 915-16 (1994)). The decision to grant or deny an attorney's motion to withdraw as counsel is committed to the sound discretion of the trial court. LaGrand v. Stewart, 133 F.3d 1253, 1269 (9th Cir. 1998).

After reviewing the record and the reasons for withdrawal noted by Withdrawing Attorneys, the Court concludes that there is good cause to grant their motion to withdraw as counsel. Defendant has failed to pay outstanding attorneys' fees and costs. Additionally, Alder Grove PKI, LLC, the party that originally retained Withdrawing Attorneys, no longer has authority to conduct the day-to-day operations of Defendant. This has strained communications between Withdrawing Attorneys and Defendant.

The Court further concludes that the withdrawal will not unduly prejudice Defendant or unduly delay resolution of the case. Trial is not scheduled until November 16, 2009. Although a Motion for Summary Judgment has filed in this matter, the hearing date has been continued to April 8, 2009. Accordingly, the motion to withdraw as counsel is GRANTED.

IT IS SO ORDERED.


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