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Shortal v. Hessgen, Inc.

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

June 20, 2013

JOSEPH SHORTAL; JOHN STAMATIS; PAUL BARDEN; KENNETH VAUGHAN; MICHAEL SIMON, Plaintiffs,
v.
HESSGEN, INC.; BRIAN HESS; ANDY MILLS; DOES 1-10, inclusive, Defendants. HESSGEN, INC.; BRIAN HESS, Cross Claimants,
v.
JACK MOTT; ANDY MILLS; ROES 1-10, inclusive, Cross Defendants. ANDY MILLS, Cross Claimant,
v.
GEORGE MALASEK; DAVID RUTKOSKE; BRIAN HESS; HESSGEN, INC.; JACK MOTT, Cross Defendants.

ORDER

WILLIAM Q. HAYES, District Judge.

The matter before the Court is the Motion to Withdraw as Attorney of Record for Defendants/Cross-Complainants/Cross-Defendants Hessgen, Inc. and Brian Hess ("Motion to Withdraw") filed by the La Jolla Law Group ("LJLG"). (ECF No. 40).

On June 11, 2013, LJLG filed a motion to withdraw as counsel of record for Hessgen, Inc. and Brian Hess "on the grounds that, despite extensive attempts over the last several weeks, LJLG has been unable and continues to be unable to adequately communicate with [Hessgen, Inc. and Brian Hess], severely prejudicing LJLG's ability to defend the allegations of the Complaint and Cross-Complaint..., as well as prosecute [Hessgen, Inc. and Brian Hess'] Cross-Complaint." (ECF No. 40 at 2). The motion also asserts that Hessgen, Inc. and Brian Hess have breached their fee agreement with LJLG by failing to pay for services rendered and costs incurred in this action. See id.

An attorney may not withdraw as counsel except by leave of court. Darby v. City of Torrance, 810 F.Supp. 275, 276 (C.D. Cal. 1992). "The decision to grant or deny counsel's motion to withdraw is committed to the discretion of the trial court." Irwin v. Mascott, 2004 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 28264, at *4 (N.D. Cal. December 1, 2004) (citing Washington v. Sherwin Real Estate, Inc., 694 F.2d 1081, 1087 (7th Cir. 1982)). Among other things, courts ruling upon motions to withdraw as counsel have considered the following factors: "(1) the reasons why withdrawal is sought; (2) the prejudice withdrawal may cause to other litigants; (3) the harm withdrawal might cause to the administration of justice; and (4) the degree to which withdrawal will delay the resolution of the case." Irwin, 2004 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 28264, at *4.

In the Southern District of California, Local Civil Rule 83.3(g)(3) provides: "A notice of motion to withdraw as attorney of record must be served on the adverse party and on the moving attorney's client.... A declaration pertaining to such service must be filed. Failure to make service as required by this section or to file the required declaration of service will result in a denial of the motion." Civ. L.R. 83.3(g)(3). Local Civil Rule 83.4(b) requires counsel to "comply with the standards of professional conduct required of members of the State Bar of California, " and states that "[t]his specification will not be interpreted to be exhaustive of the standards of conduct." Civ. L.R. 83.4(b).

California Rule of Professional Conduct 3-700 provides:

(A) In General
(1) If permission for termination of employment is required by the rules of a tribunal, a member shall not withdraw from employment in a proceeding before that tribunal without its permission.
(2) A member shall not withdraw from employment until the member has taken reasonable steps to avoid reasonably foreseeable prejudice to the rights of the client, including giving due notice to the client, allowing time for employment of other counsel, ... and complying with applicable laws and rules....
(C) Permissive Withdrawal
[A] member may not request permission to withdraw in matters pending before a tribunal, and may not withdraw in other matters, unless such request or such withdrawal is because:
(1) The client... renders it unreasonably difficult for the member to carry out the employment effectively, or... breaches an agreement or obligation to the member as to expenses or fees....

Rules Prof. Conduct, rule 3-700.

LJLG submits the declaration of its attorney of record in this case, Kent ...


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