United States District Court, N.D. California
STEPHINE M. WELLS, Plaintiff,
NASF VAN LINES, INC., et al., Defendants.
ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO WITHDRAW RE: DKT. NO.
A. WESTMORE, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Nadel moves to withdraw as Defendant NASF Van Lines,
Inc.'s counsel. (Mot. to Withdraw, Dkt. No. 53.)
Defendant did not file an opposition to Attorney Nadel's
motion to withdraw. The Court held a hearing on the motion on
November 2, 2017; Attorney Nadel's representative
appeared at the hearing, but Defendant did not. (Dkt. No.
reviewed the filings, the Court GRANTS Attorney Nadel's
motion to withdraw as counsel.
Stephine M. Wells filed the instant case on May 18, 2015
against Defendants NASF Van Lines, Inc., Moving Agent Corp.,
and England Vanlines, asserting claims based on Defendant
NASF Van Lines, Inc.'s allegedly improper actions when
moving Plaintiff's belongings from California to North
Carolina. (Compl. ¶¶ 1, 19, Dkt. No. 1.) On
September 13, 2016, Attorney Nadel appeared in the instant
case, filing an answer on behalf of Defendant NASF Van Lines,
Inc. (Answer, Dkt. No. 30.)
September 11, 2017, Attorney Nadel moved to withdraw as
attorney. In his declaration, Attorney Nadel explained that
on June 23, 2017, he received discovery requests from
Plaintiff and thereafter called and e-mailed his client to
discuss responses to the discovery requests. (Nadel Decl.
¶ 4, Dkt. No. 53.) Attorney Nadel provided copies of the
discovery to his client, and informed them of the need for
completion and the consequences for failing to completely
respond to discovery. (Nadel Decl. ¶ 5.) Attorney Nadel
states, however, that he has received no response from his
client since July 17, 2017. (Nadel Decl. ¶ 6.) As a
result of Defendant NASF Van Line, Inc.'s failure to
communicate, Attorney Nadel asserts that he has been unable
to prepare for trial or complete discovery responses. (Nadel
Decl. ¶¶7, 10.) In addition to his declaration,
Attorney Nadel also submitted a proof of service, stating
that he had arranged for service of the motion to withdraw as
counsel to Defendant NASF Van Lines, Inc. by mail. (Dkt. No.
53 at 8.) As of the date of this order, no opposition has
been filed by the parties.
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
rule further provides that:
When withdrawal by an attorney from an action is not
accompanied by simultaneous appearance of substitute counsel
or agreement of the party to appear pro se, leave to withdraw
may be subject to the condition that papers may continue to
be served on counsel for forwarding purposes, unless and
until the client appears by other counsel or pro se. When
this condition is imposed, counsel must notify the party of
this condition. Any filed consent by the party to
counsel's withdrawal under these circumstances must
include acknowledgment of this condition.
Civil L.R. 11-5(b).
is governed by the California Rules of Professional Conduct.
Nehad v. Mukasey, 535 F.3d 962, 970 (9th Cir. 2008)
(applying California Rules of Professional Conduct to
withdrawal by attorney). California Rule of Professional
Conduct 3-700(C) sets forth several grounds under which an
attorney may request permission to withdraw. Counsel may
withdraw from representation in any matter in which the
client "breaches an agreement or obligation to the
member as to expenses or fees, " has made it
"unreasonably difficult for the member to carry out the
employment effectively, " or "knowingly and freely
assents to termination of the employment." Cal. Rules of
Prof'l Conduct 3-700(C)(1)(d), (f) & (C)(5). The
court has discretion to grant or deny a motion to withdraw,
and it can exercise that discretion, and decide to deny such
a motion, "where such withdrawal would work an injustice
or cause undue delay in the proceeding." Gong v.
City of Alameda, Case No. 03-cv-5495 TEH, 2008 WL
160964, at *1 (N.D. Cal. Jan. 8, 2008) (internal citation and
Nadel moves to withdraw on the ground that his client has
failed to communicate with him, which has resulted in a
breakdown in the attorney-client relationship. (Mot. to
Withdraw at 2.) Attorney Nadel also states that this
breakdown has prevented him from conducting discovery,
including responding to Plaintiff's requests for
production. (Id. at 3.)
Court finds that good cause exists to grant Attorney
Nadel's motion to withdraw. Attorney Nadel has attested
that Defendant NASF Van Lines, Inc. has failed to communicate
with its attorney, preventing Attorney Nadel from fulfilling
his legal obligations as to discovery. (Nadel Decl.
¶¶ 7, 10.) This is a valid ground for withdrawal.
See Hill Design Grp. v. Wang, Case No. 04-cv-521-JF,
2006 WL 3591206, at *4 (N.D. Cal. Dec. 11, 2006) (granting
motion to withdraw where there was a breakdown in
attorney-client communications). Further, although Defendant
NASF Van Lines, Inc. was served with Attorney Nadel's
motion to withdraw, neither it nor Plaintiff has objected to