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Doe v. Kaweah Delta Hospital

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA


May 11, 2009

JOHN DOE, PLAINTIFF,
v.
KAWEAH DELTA HOSPITAL, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Dennis L. Beck United States Magistrate Judge

ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO WITHDRAW AS COUNSEL OF RECORD FOR PLAINTIFF

(Document 32)

Morrison & Foerster LLP, Plaintiff's counsel of record, filed the instant motion to withdraw on May 6, 2009. The matter was heard on shortened time on May 8, 2009, before the Honorable Dennis L. Beck, United States Magistrate Judge. Minn Chung and Douglas Hendricks of Morrison & Foerster and Plaintiff John Doe appeared. Jeffrey Nelson appeared on behalf of Defendant Kaweah Delta Hospital. Carey Johnson appeared on behalf of Defendant Julie Anne Breseman.

Background

Plaintiff John Doe, through his attorneys at Morrison & Foerster, filed the instant action on January 18, 2008. The action arises from alleged disclosure of Plaintiff's confidential health care information to the public by Defendants.

Trial is currently set for August 25, 2009. The deadline for fact discovery is May 13, 2009. The deadline for disclosure of experts is June 15, 2009, and expert discovery cut-off is July 15, 2009.

On May 4, 2009, the parties filed a stipulation and application to shorten time to hear the instant motion. The parties jointly agreed to hearing the motion on May 8, 2009. The Court granted the application to shorten time. Counsel served a copy of the stipulation and application to shorten time, which included a copy of the motion to withdraw, on Plaintiff by overnight delivery on May 4, 2009.

On May 6, 2009, counsel re-filed the motion to withdraw pursuant to the Court's order shortening time.

Plaintiff John Doe did not respond to the motion, but appeared at the hearing. In the affidavit supporting the application to shorten time, counsel for Plaintiff indicates that Defendants do not oppose the motion for withdrawal.

Discussion

California Rule of Professional Conduct 3-700(B) governs mandatory withdrawal. In relevant part, the rule requires withdrawal if: (1) the attorney knows or should know that the client is bringing an action, conducting a defense, asserting a position in litigation, or taking an appeal, without probable cause and for the purpose of harassing or maliciously injuring any persons; or (2) the attorney knows or should know that continued employment will result in violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct or of the State Bar Act; or (3) the attorney's mental or physical condition renders it unreasonably difficult to carry out the employment effectively.

Morrison & Foerster request withdrawal because an irreconcilable conflict has developed with the Plaintiff. Counsel assert that pursuant to Local Rule 83-182(d) and Rule 3-700(B) of the California Rules of Professional Conduct withdrawal is necessary. Counsel further report that Morrison & Foerster has taken reasonable steps to avoid reasonably foreseeable prejudice to Plaintiff. Counsel explains that Plaintiff was notified in writing on April 3, 2009, that counsel would seek permission to withdraw; counsel obtained a 30-day extension for all discovery deadlines to allow Plaintiff time to substitute counsel; another 30-day extension was being discussed with defense counsel; and counsel have provided assistance to Plaintiff to retain new counsel.

Following an in camera hearing and inspection of documents, the motion to withdraw as counsel of record is GRANTED. The Clerk of the Court is ORDERED to RELIEVE Arturo Gonzalez, Minn Chung, and the law firm of Morrison & Foerster LLP as counsel of record for Plaintiff and SUBSTITUTE Plaintiff John Doe, appearing pro se.

A status conference is SCHEDULED for July 8, 2009, at 9:00 a.m. before the assigned Magistrate Judge. Plaintiff shall file a written status report no later than July 1, 2009, regarding efforts to obtain substitute counsel.

The current discovery deadlines and the pre-trial and trial dates in this matter are VACATED. However, Defendants' responses to interrogatories already served by Plaintiff shall be provided no later than May 27, 2009.

It is FURTHER ORDERED that Morrison & Foerster serve a copy of this order on Plaintiff John Doe.

IT IS SO ORDERED.

20090511

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