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Kannan v. Apple Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. California, San Jose Division

January 7, 2020

RAJA KANNAN, Plaintiff,
v.
APPLE INC., Defendant.

          ORDER GRANTING ATTORNEY KAREN FORD'S MOTION TO WITHDRAW RE: DKT. NO. 220

          EDWARD J. DAVILA UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Ms. Karen Ford, Plaintiff's attorney, first appeared as counsel of record for Plaintiff on August 27, 2018. Dkt. 52. For about one year and four months, Ms. Ford has been Plaintiff's counsel. On December 14, 2019, Ms. Ford filed a Motion to Withdraw as Counsel of Record for Plaintiff. Motion to Withdraw as Counsel (“Mot.”), Dkt. 220. Ms. Ford argues that her request to withdraw as counsel is supported by California Rule of Professional Conduct 1.16(b).[1] Id. at 3.

         Plaintiff Raja Kannan opposes Ms. Ford's Motion to Withdraw and argues that he will be unduly burdened if the Court grants the motion to withdraw. Plaintiff's Response in Opposition to Plaintiff's Counsel's Motion to Withdraw (“Opp.”), Dkt. 225. On December 27, 2019, Ms. Ford submitted a Reply to Plaintiff's Opposition. Reply ISO Motion to Withdraw as Counsel (“Reply”), Dkt. 226.

         Defendant Apple Inc. does not oppose the Motion to Withdraw as Counsel. Defendant Apple Inc.'s Statement of Non-Opposition, Dkt. 224.

         The Court finds this motion suitable for consideration without oral argument. See N.D. Cal. Civ. L.R. 7-1(b). Having considered the Plaintiff and Ms. Ford's papers, the Court GRANTS Ms. Ford's Motion to Withdraw as Plaintiff's counsel.

         I. LEGAL STANDARD

         In this district, the conduct of counsel, including the withdrawal of counsel, is governed by the standards of professional conduct required of members of the State Bar of California. N.D. Cal. Civ. L.R. 11-4(1). California Rule of Professional Conduct 1.16 provides that an attorney may request permission to withdraw if a client is engaged in conduct that makes it unreasonably difficult for the attorney to carry out employment effectively or breaches an agreement or obligation to pay expenses or fees.

         An attorney must receive leave of court to withdraw as counsel. Darby v. City of Torrance, 810 F.Supp. 275, 276 (C.D. Cal. 1992). “The decision to grant or deny counsel's motion to withdraw is committed to the discretion of the trial court.” Irwin v. Mascott, 2004 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 28264, at *3 (N.D. Cal. Dec. 1, 2004). A court ruling upon motions to withdraw as counsel considers:

(1) the reasons why withdrawal is sought; (2) the prejudice withdrawal may cause to other litigants; (3) the harm withdrawal might cause to the administration of justice; and (4) the degree to which withdrawal will delay the resolution of the case.

Id. at *4.

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. Counsel Provided Reasonable Written Notice

         Counsel must give their client and the other parties in the case reasonable advance written notice of the intent to withdraw. N.D. Cal. Civ. L.R. 11-5(a); Cal. R. Prof'l Conduct 1.16(d).

         Here, Ms. Ford informed Plaintiff in October 2019 of her intent to withdraw as counsel. Declaration of Counsel ISO Motion to Withdraw as Counsel (“Ford Decl.”) ¶¶ 8-11, Dkt. 220-1. She has repeatedly informed Plaintiff of her need to withdraw and the reasons why-indeed, she sent Plaintiff a ...


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