IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA
March 11, 2013
J & J SPORTS PRODUCTIONS, INC., PLAINTIFF,
AMARJIT SINGH BRAR, D/B/A AURA; LAJ, LLC, D/B/A AURA,
ORDER AND FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
This case, in which defendants are proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, is before the undersigned pursuant to Eastern District of California Local Rule 302(c)(21). See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). On September 6, 2012, plaintiff filed a motion to strike defendant Laj, LLC's answer, and noticed the motion for hearing before the undersigned on October 31, 2012.*fn1 Dckt. No. 48. Then, on September 28, 2012, plaintiff filed a notice that defendant Amarjit Singh Brar filed a voluntary Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition. Dckt. No. 50; see also In re Amarjit Singh Brar, 12:bk-33305, filed July 19, 2012. Accordingly, on October 3, 2012, the undersigned issued an order denied plaintiff's motion to strike without prejudice and staying the action pending resolution of defendant Amarjit Singh Brar's bankruptcy petition. Dckt. No. 51.
The bankruptcy stay was lifted on January 3, 2013. Dckt. No. 55. Thereafter, on January 22, 2013, plaintiff once again moved to strike defendant Laj, LLC's answer, and noticed the motion for hearing before the undersigned on March 20, 2013. Dckt. No. 56. Defendant Laj, LLC has not filed a response to the motion, even though Local Rule 230(c) provides that opposition to the granting of a motion, or a statement of non-opposition thereto, must be served upon the moving party, and filed with this court, no later than fourteen days preceding the noticed hearing date or, in this instance, by March 6, 2013.*fn2
Regardless, because plaintiff has demonstrated that defendant Laj, LLC's answer should be stricken, the March 20, 2013 hearing date on the motion to strike will be vacated and the undersigned will recommend that the motion be granted.
On March 26, 2012, the assigned district judge granted defense counsel's motion to withdraw, and instructed Laj, LLC to obtain alternate counsel within thirty days since Laj, LLC "may not litigate in federal court by appearing in propria persona."*fn3 Dckt. No. 38 at 3 (citing E.D. Cal. L.R. 183(a); United States v. High Country Broad Co., 3 F.3d 1244, 1245 (9th Cir. 2010) (stating "[a] corporation may appear in federal court only through licensed counsel.")).
The order further stated: "LAJ, LLC must be represented by counsel to litigate this case, and if LAJ, LLC is not represented by counsel, its answer will be stricken. Further, LAJ, LLC would be at risk of losing this case in default proceedings." Id. at 3 (citing Employee Painters' Trust v. Ethan Enters., Inc., 480 F.3d 993, 998 (9th Cir. 2007) (holding that failure to retain counsel on behalf of corporation supported entry of default judgment)); see also id. at 3-4 (citing General Electric Capital Corp. v. Ten Forward Dining, 2011 WL 2671542, at *2 (E.D. Cal. July 6, 2011) (sanctioning corporate defendants by striking their answer when they failed to retain alternate counsel after the withdrawal of their original counsel)).
Nonetheless, Laj, LLC has failed to obtain alternate counsel, even though nearly a year has passed since it was first instructed to do so. Therefore, for the reasons set forth in the court's March 26, 2012 order, the undersigned will recommend that defendant Laj, LLC's answer be stricken.
Accordingly, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that the March 20, 2013 hearing on plaintiff's motion to strike defendant Laj, LLC's answer is vacated.
IT IS FURTHER RECOMMENDED that:
1. Defendant Laj, LLC's answer be stricken; and
2. The Clerk of Court be directed to re-enter default against defendant Laj, LLC pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55(a).*fn4