United States District Court, N.D. California, San Jose Division
ORDER CONDITIONALLY GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S
COUNSEL'S MOTION TO WITHDRAW; STAY OF ACTION RE: DKT. NO.
VIRGINIA K. DEMARCHI UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
for plaintiff Satish Ramachandran, Fulvio Cajina, moves to
withdraw from representation of Mr. Ramachandran pursuant to
Civil Local Rule 11-5. Dkt. No. 98. Defendants do not oppose
the motion. The Court heard oral argument on counsel's
motion on August 13, 2019. Dkt. No. 101. At the hearing,
Messrs. Cajina and Ramachandran disputed the bases for Mr.
Cajina's withdrawal, and Mr. Ramachandran indicated that
he does not wish Mr. Cajina to withdraw. The Court issued an
interim order requiring Mr. Ramachandran and Mr. Cajina to
confer about the bases for the motion to withdraw by August
20, 2019 and to submit a status report or reports for in
camera review by August 23, 2019. Dkt. No. 103.
Cajina lodged a status report for in camera review on August
23, 2019. Mr. Cajina's report indicates that Mr.
Ramachandran did not cooperate in scheduling a meeting and
that therefore Messrs. Cajina and Ramachandran still have not
discussed the bases for the motion to withdraw as the Court
ordered. Mr. Ramachandran did not submit his own report.
considered the parties' moving papers and subsequent in
camera submissions, the Court grants counsel's motion to
withdraw, subject to certain conditions set forth below.
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.”
Until the client obtains other representation, motions to
withdraw as counsel may be granted on the condition that
current counsel continue to serve on the client all papers
from the court and from the opposing parties. Civ. L.R.
California Rules of Professional Conduct govern withdrawal
from representation. Nehad v. Mukasey, 535 F.3d 962,
970 (9th Cir. 2008) (applying California Rules of
Professional Conduct to attorney withdrawal); see also
Dieter v. Regents of Univ. of Cal., 963 F.Supp. 908, 910
(E.D. Cal. 1997). Rule 1.16 describes the circumstances in
which an attorney may withdraw from representation. These
include situations where “the client . . . renders it
unreasonably difficult for the lawyer to carry out the
representation effectively” and where “the client
breaches a material term of an agreement with, or obligation,
to the lawyer relating to the representation.” Cal. R.
Prof'l Conduct 1.16(b)(4), (5).
where circumstances permit withdrawal, counsel may not
“terminate a representation until [counsel] has taken
reasonable steps to avoid reasonably foreseeable prejudice to
the rights of the client . . . .” Cal. R. Prof'l
Conduct 1.16(d). These steps include (1) giving the client
sufficient notice to permit the client to retain other
counsel; (2) at the client's request, promptly releasing
the client's materials and property to the client; and
(3) promptly refunding any part of a fee or expense paid in
advance that the lawyer has not earned or incurred. Cal. R.
Prof'l Conduct 1.16(d), (e).
decision to permit counsel to withdraw is within the sound
discretion of the trial court. United States v.
Carter, 560 F.3d 1107, 1113 (9th Cir. 2009). Courts
consider several factors when deciding a motion for
withdrawal, including: “(1) the reasons counsel seeks
to withdraw; (2) the possible prejudice that withdrawal may
cause to other litigants; (3) the harm that withdrawal might
cause to the administration of justice; and (4) the extent to
which withdrawal will delay resolution of the case.”
Deal v. Countrywide Home Loans, No. 09-CV-01643-SBA,
2010 WL 3702459, at *2 (N.D. Cal. Sept. 15, 2010).
Cajina seeks permission to withdraw from representation on
the grounds that Mr. Ramachandran has breached the
attorney-client fee agreement and that his conduct has
rendered it unreasonably difficult for Mr. Cajina to carry
out the representation effectively. Dkt. No. 98 at 4. The
Court concludes that Mr. Cajina has provided adequate reasons
for withdrawal from representation. Despite the late stage of
proceedings in this matter, the Court further concludes that
permitting counsel to withdraw will not prejudice the
administration of justice, in view of the conditions on
withdrawal the Court sets out below.
Court conditionally grants Mr. Cajina's motion and will
permit him to withdraw from representation as follows:
(1) All proceedings in this action are STAYED through
September 25, 2019 to allow Mr. Ramachandran an opportunity