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MRC Golf, Inc. v. Hippo Golf Co.

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA


November 5, 2009

MRC GOLF, INC., PLAINTIFF,
v.
HIPPO GOLF COMPANY, INC., DEFENDANT.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: M. James Lorenz United States District Court Judge

ORDER GRANTING EX PARTE APPLICATION TO WITHDRAW AS COUNSEL OF RECORD

On October 27, 2009 counsel for Defendant Hippo Golf Company, Inc. filed an ex parte application to withdraw as counsel of record. Although Defendant and Plaintiff were served with the application, they did not respond. For the reasons which follow, the application to withdraw is GRANTED.

An attorney representing a client before a tribunal may not withdraw except by leave of court. Darby v. City of Torrance, 810 F. Supp. 275, 276 (C.D. Cal. 1992); Cal. R. Prof. Conduct 3-700(A)(1). This court requires counsel to "comply with the standards of professional conduct required of members of the State Bar of California, and decisions of any court applicable thereto." Civ. Loc. R. 83.4(b).

Counsel maintains withdrawal is necessitated by Defendant's failure to meet its obligation to communicate and cooperate with its counsel in the proceedings, and to meet its financial obligations.*fn1 The counsel argue these circumstances have rendered it impossible to continue to adequately represent Defendant.

Withdrawal is permissible under these circumstances. See Cal. R. Prof. Conduct & 3-700(C)(1)(d) (unreasonably difficult for counsel to carry out his employment) & 3-700(C)(1)(f) (failure to pay fees). Although the rules do not mandate withdrawal, they make it permissive.

An attorney may not withdraw until he or she "has taken reasonable steps to avoid reasonably foreseeable prejudice to the rights of the client...." Cal. R. Prof. Conduct 3-100(A)(2). Counsel have represented to the court that prior to requesting withdrawal, they had made all required efforts to protect Defendant from prejudice and would continue to protect it from prejudice pending an order permitting withdrawal. Having reviewed the application and the supporting declarations of counsel, the court finds good cause to grant the application.

Defendant is a corporation and therefore must be represented by counsel. See Civ. Local Rule 83.3(k); D-Beam Ltd. P'ship v. Roller Derby Skates, Inc., 366 F.3d 972, 973-74 (9th Cir. 2004). No later than December 4, 2009 Defendant shall file a notice of appearance identifying its new counsel, including address and telephone number.

For the foregoing reasons, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED as follows:

1. Defense counsel's ex parte application to withdraw as counsel of record is GRANTED.

2. The Clerk of Court shall reflect on the docket that Law Offices of Gray Robinson P.A. and Luce, Forward, Hamilton & Scripps LLP are terminated as counsel for Defendant.

3. Defense counsel shall serve a copy of this order on Defendant by most expeditious means available and file a proof of service no later than November 9, 2009.

4. No later than December 4, 2009 Defendant shall file a notice of appearance identifying its new counsel, including address and telephone number.

5. Defendant's answer may be stricken, default entered against it, and its counterclaims may be dismissed if it fails timely to comply with this order.

IT IS SO ORDERED.


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