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Curtis v. BCI Coca-Cola Enterprises Bottling Companies

United States District Court, E.D. California

September 5, 2014

MAURICE J. CURTIS, Plaintiff,
v.
BCI COCA-COLA ENTERPRISES BOTTLING COMPANIES, Defendant.

ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO STRIKE PLAINTIFF'S PRO HAC VICE APPLICATION (Doc. 29).

BARBARA A. McAULIFFE, Magistrate Judge.

Defendant BCI Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Los Angeles[1] ("Defendant") moves the Court to revoke the pro hac vice application of Amy C. Rossitto to act as counsel for Plaintiff Maurice J. Curtis ("Plaintiff"). Plaintiff opposes the motion. (Doc. 31). The Motion was heard on September 5, 2014, at 9:00 AM, before the United States Magistrate Judge Barbara A. McAuliffe. Counsel Amy Rossitto and Jennifer Synder appeared by telephone on behalf of Plaintiff. Counsel Sabrina Beldner appeared in person on behalf of the Defendant. Having considered the moving papers, argument presented at the hearing, as well as the Court's file, the motion is GRANTED.

A. Background of Dispute

On August 7, 2014, Plaintiff filed a pro hac vice application on behalf of Amy Rossitto. (Doc. 23). Ms. Rossitto, a licensed Illinois attorney, was permitted to appear before this Court pro hac vice on August 8, 2014. Defendant challenges Ms. Rossitto's pro hac vice application for several reasons, but primarily on the grounds that Ms. Rossitto's application is in violation of the express requirements of Local Rule 180(b) (2). Defendant contends that Ms. Rossitto is not entitled to pro hac vice status under Local Rule 180(b)(2) because she: (1) resides in California; (2) is employed in California; and (3) is regularly engaged in professional activities in California.

More specifically, Defendant argues that Ms. Rossitto's pro hac vice application states, under penalty of perjury, that she is a resident of Fremont, California currently employed by and providing professional services for the Law Offices of Jennifer R. Snyder, located in Newark, California. (Doc. 23). Defendant further contends that since at least June 17, 2014 (or the last two months), Ms. Rossitto has been regularly corresponding with Defendant's counsel regarding Plaintiff's case by email using the Administrator@jrslawoffices.com e-mail address, which contains a signature block entitled "The Law Offices of Jennifer R. Snyder." Id. at ΒΆΒΆ 6-10 and Exhs. 5-8.

Plaintiff responds that Ms. Rossitto's application is in compliance with Local Rule 180(b)(2) because Ms. Rossitto (1) is not a California resident as she lives here merely on a temporary basis; (2) is not regularly employed in California because she works as an independent contractor for the Law Offices of Jennifer Snyder; and (3) she primarily works on the underlying case and thus she is not "regularly engaged" in professional activities in California. Additionally, Plaintiff argues that this Court lacks discretion to deny Attorney Rossitto's application for pro hac vice admission. (Doc. 31 at 3), citing In re Evans, 524 F.2d 1004, 1006 (5th Cir. Miss. 1975); McKenzie v. Burris, 255 Ark. 330, 344, 500 S.W.2d 357, 366 (1973) (trial court may not impose "arbitrary numerical limitation on the number of [pro hac vice] appearances by an attorney" with expertise in the relevant area), among other cases.

B. Legal Standard

Admission to appear pro hac vice in an action pending in the Eastern District of California is governed by Local Rule 180. Pursuant to Local Rule 180, an attorney who is a member in good standing and eligible to practice before the Bar of any of the United States Court or of the highest Court of any State may in a particular case be permitted to practice within this judicial district on a pro hac vice basis upon application and discretion of this Court. However, Local Rule 180(b)(2) specifically prohibits an attorney from being admitted pro hac vice if any one or more of the following apply:

(i) the attorney resides in California, (ii) the attorney is regularly employed in California; or (iii) the attorney is regularly engaged in professional activities in California.

An attorney who seeks pro hac vice status shall present to the Clerk an application stating the following:

(i) the attorney's residence and office addresses, (ii) by what courts the attorney has been admitted to practice and the dates of admissions, (iii) a certificate of good standing from the court in the attorney's state of primary practice, (iv) that the attorney is not currently suspended or disbarred in any court, and (v) if the attorney has concurrently or within the year preceding the current application made any other pro hac vice applications to this Court, the title and number of each action in which such application was made, the date of each application, and whether each application was granted.

C. Analysis

In her application for pro hac vice status, Ms. Rossitto represented to the Court that she resides in California and that is she is currently employed by the Law Offices of Jennifer R. Snyder, also located in California. In her response to the Motion, however, Ms. Rossitto explains that her application does not run afoul of Local Rule 180 because she is not a resident of California. In her supporting declaration, Ms. Rossitto explains that she does not meet "any of the indicia necessary to be considered a resident of the State of California." (Doc. 31 at 6). Ms. Rossitto claims that she is a permanent Illinois resident. She explains that she moved to California in May 2014 on a temporary basis for her husband's employment. Together with her husband, Ms. Rossitto lives in a hotel in Freemont, California; she does not own property in California; and all of her personal property remains in Chicago, Illinois.

As filed, Plaintiff's pro hac vice application expressly violates Local Rule 180(b)(2) for several reasons. First, while Ms. Rossitto argues otherwise, there is no credible dispute that she is currently living in Freemont, California as Ms. Rossitto expressly so states under penalty of perjury in her pro hac vice application. While Plaintiff now claims that Ms. Rossitto lives temporarily in a "hotel, "by her own sworn admission, Ms. Rossitto is ...


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