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United Fabrics International, Inc. v. Life N Style Fashions Inc.

United States District Court, C.D. California

August 9, 2016

UNITED FABRICS INTERNATIONAL, INC., Plaintiff,
v.
LIFE N STYLE FASHIONS INC. and DOES 1-10, inclusive, Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO WITHDRAW AS DEFENDANTS’ COUNSEL OF RECORD [30]

          OTIS D. WRIGHT, II UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Before the Court is Alan M. Klein’s Motion to Withdraw as counsel for Defendant Life N Style Fashions, Inc. (Mot., ECF No. 30.) Plaintiff has not opposed the Motion. For the reasons set forth below, the Court GRANTS the Motion to Withdraw and ORDERS Defendant Life N Style obtain new counsel by September 18, 2016.[1]

         II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff United Fabrics International, Inc. filed the instant copyright action in this Court on July 29, 2015. (Compl., ECF No. 1.)

         Attorney Alan Klein was retained by Defendant as trial counsel for the case at bar. (Tsui-Yip Decl. ¶ 2, ECF No. 30-2.) All communications between Klein and Defendant have been through Defendant’s previously-retained intellectual property counsel at Miskin & Tsui-Yip. (Tsui-Yip Decl. ¶ 3; Klein Decl. ¶ 2, ECF No. 30-4.) Klein bills Defendant for his work through Tsui-Yip. (Tsui-Yip Decl. ¶ 4; Klein Decl. ¶ 3.) However, it appears that Defendant has not paid Tsui-Yip for over ten months, and thus Tsui-Yip cannot pay Klein. (Tsui-Yip Decl. ¶¶ 6-7.) Defendant also has not been forthcoming with required information and generally uncooperative throughout this litigation, despite multiple requests. (Id. ¶¶ 8, 10-11.)

         Given this breakdown between the attorney-client relationship, Tsui-Yip believes it can no longer adequately represent Defendant and, since Klein has no direct contact with Defendant, he too can no longer effectively represent his client. (Id. ¶¶ 8-11; Mot. 2.) In March 2016, Miskin & Tsui-Yip provided written and electronic notice of its intentions to cease all representation as well as Klein’s intentions to withdraw as counsel in this matter. (Tsui-Yip Decl. ¶ 11.) This letter also advised Defendant that, as an organization, it would need to retain new counsel in order to proceed. (Id.)

         On August 4, 2016, Klein filed a Motion to Withdraw as counsel of record. (ECF No. 30.) According to counsel, the relationship between Defendant and its chosen trial counsel has so deteriorated that counsel can no longer perform his professional duties effectively. (Id. 3.) Plaintiff has not opposed this motion.

         The Motion is now before the Court.

         III. LEGAL STANDARD

         Under the local rules of this Court, “[a]n attorney may not withdraw as counsel except by leave of court.” L.R. 83-2.3.2; see also Darby v. City of Torrance, 810 F.Supp. 275, 276 (C.D. Cal.1992). “A motion for leave to withdraw must be made upon written notice given reasonably in advance to the client and to all other parties who have appeared in the action, ” and must be for good cause. L.R. 83-2.3.2. However, “[a]n attorney requesting leave to withdraw from representation of an organization of any kind (including corporations, limited liability corporations, partnerships, limited liability partnerships, unincorporated associations, trusts) must give written notice to the organization of the consequences of its inability to appear pro se.” L.R. 83-2.3.4.

         The decision to grant or deny a motion to withdraw as counsel for a party is within the Court’s discretion. See, e.g., Huntington Learning Ctrs., Inc. v. Educ. Gateway, Inc., 2009 WL 2337863 at *1 (C.D. Cal. June 28, 2009).

         IV. DISCUSSION

         The Court finds good cause for withdrawal. In his Motion, counsel details how Defendant has ceased paying for legal services or offering required information in order for the litigation to proceed. (Tsui-Yip Decl. ¶¶ 8, 10-11.) With a client refusing to offer necessary information in the course of representation, the Court agrees that the attorney-client relationship is irreparably broken. See Cal. R. Prof. Conduct 3-700(C)(1)(d) (permissive withdrawal allowed when client’s conduct “renders it unreasonably difficult for the member to carry out the employment effectively.”); see also Deal v. Countrywide Home Loans, No. C 09-01643 SBA, 2010 WL 3702459, at *2-4 (N.D. Cal. Sept. 15, 2010) (finding withdrawal warranted where the client has made it unreasonably difficult to carry out course of representation effectively). Furthermore, the Motion complies ...


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