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Oracle America, Inc., A Delaware Sba Corporation v. Service Key

March 22, 2013

ORACLE AMERICA, INC., A DELAWARE SBA CORPORATION,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
SERVICE KEY, LLC, A GEORGIA LIMITED LIABILITY COMPANY;
FEDERAL BUSINESS SYSTEMS SUPERSEDES
CORPORATION, A DELAWARE CORPORATION; AND DOES 1--50, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: United States District Judge Saundra Brown Armstrong

AMENDED ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO WITHDRAW AND DIRECTING DLT FEDERAL BUSINESS SYSTEMS CORPORATION TORETAIN COUNSELANGELA VINES; DLT 10Dkt. 163 Dkt. 183

The parties are presently before the Court on DLT Federal Business Systems 16Corporation's (DLT) Motion to Withdraw by Counsel. Dkt. 163. Having read and 17 considered the papers filed in connection with this matter and being fully informed, the 18

Court hereby GRANTS the motion for the reasons set forth below. In addition, DLT is 19 ordered to retain new counsel within fifteen (15) days of this Order. The Court, in its 20 discretion, finds this matter suitable for resolution without oral argument. See Fed. R. Civ. 21

I. BACKGROUND 23

24 against Defendants, DLT, Service Key, LLC ("Service Key") and its Service Key President 25 and co-owner, Angela Vines. The Amended Complaint alleges claims, inter alia, under the 26 Federal Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. §§ 101 et seq., the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act 27 ("CFAA"), 18 U.S.C. §§ 1030 et seq., and the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1125(a)(1)(B). 28 P. 78(b); N.D. Cal. Civ. L.R. 7-1(b). 22 On February 17, 2012, Plaintiff Oracle America, Inc. (Oracle) filed the instant action 1The discovery cut-off date is June 26, 2013, and trial is scheduled to commence on October 2 14, 2013. Dkt. 59.

At the outset of the action, DLT was represented by DunlapWeaver PLLC and 4Coblentz, Patch, Duffy & Bass LLP (collectively "Original Counsel"). On January 11, 5 2013, Original Counsel filed a motion to withdraw due to ethical concerns, pursuant to 6 California Rule of Professional Conduct 3-700. Dkt. 117. For procedural reasons, the 7 Court denied the motion without prejudice on January 18, 2013. Dkt. 131. In that Order, 8 however, the Court explicitly warned DLT, that, as a corporation, it may appear only 9 through counsel. Id. at 2. In addition, the Court noted that "[w]hen a corporation fails to 10 retain counsel to represent it in an action, its answer may be stricken and a default judgment 11 entered against it." Id. at 3. Three days later, on January 22, 2013, DLT filed a notice 12 substituting the law firms Rimon P.C. and NOVA IP Law, PLLC (collectively "Current 13 Counsel") in place of Original Counsel. Dkt. 137, 142. 14 On March 8, 2013, little more than one month after appearing in this action, Current 15Counsel filed the instant motion to withdraw. Dkt. 163. According to Current Counsel, on 16 March 6, 2013, DLT informed them that it was severing the attorney-client relationship.

Additionally, DLT expressly forbade Current Counsel from making or serving any further 18 papers, briefs, motions or discovery on DLT's behalf, other than a notice of termination 19 and, if necessary, a motion to withdraw as counsel. Whittacar Decl. ¶ 3, Dkt. 163-1. 20 Current Counsel then notified DLT of impending and briefing deadlines, and advised DLT 21 that it could only appear through counsel. Id. ¶ 4. DLT responded that it would assume 22 responsibility for its litigation obligations through its own or alternative counsel. Id. 23

II. DISCUSSION 24

25 record only if: (1) written notice has been given reasonably in advance to the client and all 26 other parties in the action; and (2) the attorney obtains leave of Court. Civ. L.R. 11-5(a). 27

In addition, withdrawing counsel must have "taken reasonable steps to avoid reasonably 28 foreseeable prejudice to the rights of the client, including giving due notice to the client,

This Court's Civil Local Rules authorize an attorney to withdraw as counsel of 1allowing time for employment of other counsel, complying with rule 3-700(D), and 2 complying with applicable laws and rules." Cal. Rules Prof. Conduct 3-700(A)(2); see 3

Nehad v. Mukasey, 535 F.3d 962, 970 (9th Cir. 2008) (applying California Rules of 4

Professional Conduct to attorney withdrawal). 5

A client has an absolute right to discharge an attorney, with ...


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