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Pacific Maritime Freight, Inc v. Sonia L. Foster; the Foster Group

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA


December 28, 2011

PACIFIC MARITIME FREIGHT, INC.,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
SONIA L. FOSTER; THE FOSTER GROUP, INC.; DOES 1 THROUGH 10, INCLUSIVE, DEFENDANTS,

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable Barry Ted Moskowitz United States District Judge

ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO WITHDRAW AND RELATED COUNTERCLAIM

Gordon & Rees, LLP ("G&R") has filed a motion to withdraw as counsel of record for Defendants Sonia L. Foster and The Foster Group, Inc. (collectively, the "Foster Defendants").

G&R seeks to withdraw as counsel of record on the grounds that the Foster Defendants have ceased communicating with G&R, have made it unreasonably difficult for G&R to carry out its representation effectively, and have failed to comply with contractual obligations to pay fees and expenses to G&R.

Under California's Rules of Professional Conduct, withdrawal is permissible if the client "renders it unreasonably difficult for the [attorney] to carry out the employment effectively, or . . . breaches an agreement or obligation to the [attorney] as to expenses or fees." Cal. R. Prof. Conduct 3-700(C)(1)(d) & (f).

Based on G&R's representations, set forth in the Declaration of Russell P. Brown, that the Foster Defendants ceased communicating with G&R in June 2011, and that they have failed to meet obligations as to fees and expenses owed both to G&R and to expert witnesses retained by G&R for the purposes of this representation, the Court finds that withdrawal is justified. Therefore, the Court ORDERS as follows:

1. G&R's motion to withdraw as counsel of record for the Foster Defendants is hereby GRANTED.

2. The stay of this case, entered on September 22, 2011 (Dkt. No. 34) is hereby LIFTED.

3. The Clerk shall terminate Gordon & Rees, LLP as counsel of record for Defendants Sonia L. Foster and The Foster Group, Inc.

4. G&R shall immediately serve a copy of this Order on both of the Foster Defendants, and shall file a proof of service with the Court.

5. Within five days of receiving this Order, The Foster Defendants shall provide, by fax or email, to the Court and to Plaintiff's counsel, current contact information for telephone, mail/delivery, e-mail, and fax.

6. The Foster Group, Inc. must retain new counsel and its new counsel must file a notice of appearance within 45 days of the entry of this order. Since a corporation*fn1 cannot represent itself, if The Foster Group, Inc. does not obtain counsel, the Court may enter a default judgment against it and may dismiss its counterclaim for failure to prosecute.

7. All parties shall appear for a status conference on Tuesday, February 21, at 4:00 p.m.

IT IS SO ORDERED.


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