United States District Court, N.D. California, San Francisco Division
ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO WITHDRAW AND ORDERING PLAINTIFFS TO SHOW CAUSE
RICHARD SEEBORG, District Judge.
The Consumer Litigation Law Center (CLLC), counsel for plaintiffs Tracy and Rodney Hobbs, moves to withdraw as counsel in this matter due to plaintiffs' alleged failure to pay attorney fees. No opposition to this motion has been received. Pursuant to Civil Local Rule 7-1(b), the motion is suitable for disposition without oral argument, and the hearing set for August 21, 2014 is vacated. For the reasons explained below, the motion is granted. Additionally, plaintiffs are ordered to show cause by October 9, 2014, why this case should not be dismissed.
Under Civil Local Rule 11-5(a), "[c]ounsel may not withdraw from an action until relieved by order of Court after written notice has been given reasonably in advance to the client and to all other parties who have appeared in the case." The local rules further provide that if the client does not consent to the withdrawal and no substitution of counsel is filed, the motion to withdraw shall be granted on the condition that all papers from the court and from the opposing party shall continue to be served on that party's current counsel for forwarding purposes until the client appears by other counsel or pro se. Civ. L.R. 11-5(b).
Withdrawal is governed by the California Rules of Professional Conduct. See Nehad v. Mukasey, 535 F.3d 962, 970 (9th Cir. 2008). Rule 3-700(c) of the California Rules of Professional Conduct sets forth several grounds under which an attorney may request permission to withdraw, including if the client breaches an agreement or obligation to its counsel as to expenses or fees. R. 3-700(C)(1)(f). The court has discretion to deny a motion to withdraw "where such withdrawal would work an injustice or cause undue delay in the proceeding." Gong v. City of Alameda, No. 03-05495 THE, 2008 WL 160964, at *1 (N.D. Cal. Jan. 8, 2008) (citing Mandel v. Superior Court, 67 Cal.App.3d 1, 4 (1977)) (holding there was no prejudice or undue delay to client where counsel provided sufficient notice of its intent to withdraw and where no trial date had yet been set in the case).
As explained in a declaration submitted in support of CLLC's motion, plaintiffs Tracy and Rodney Hobbs have been delinquent on their attorney fees since January 2014. In addition, counsel's declaration represents that plaintiffs stopped cooperating with CLLC in the prosecution of this matter. Beginning in March 2014, plaintiffs failed to return several phone calls from counsel regarding pending court dates and negotiations with opposing counsel. In June 2014, plaintiffs failed to respond to numerous voicemails, emails, and letters informing them that opposing counsel had requested certain documents. CLLC notified plaintiffs of its intent to file this motion on June 20, 2014. The firm has heard nothing from plaintiffs since then.
Good cause appearing, the motion to withdraw is granted, subject to the condition that CLLC shall continue to accept service of papers on behalf of Tracy and Rodney Hobbs for forwarding purposes until they appear by other counsel or pro se. Counsel is further instructed to notify plaintiffs of their obligation to prosecute this matter.
Plaintiffs Tracy and Rodney Hobbs are hereby ordered to show cause why this action should not be dismissed. Based on counsel's declaration, it appears plaintiffs may have abandoned their intent to prosecute this lawsuit. If plaintiffs still wish to pursue this action, they must notify the court of their intent to do so. Accordingly, plaintiffs shall appear in Courtroom 3 of 450 Golden Gate Avenue, San Francisco, California, on Thursday, October 9, at 1:30 p.m. and show cause why this action ...