Patricia Stewart, D.O. v. American Association of Physician Specialists, Inc. et al

Filing 315

ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE RE SANCTIONS by Judge Otis D. Wright, II. The Court hereby ORDERS the parties TO SHOW CAUSE, in person, on October 5, 2015 at 1:30 p.m. in Courtroom 11, why Plaintiffs counsel and Defendants counsel should not be sanctioned for th e reasons set forth herein, and why Mr. Okerblom should not be removed as counsel from this case. All other dates and deadlines in this action, including the pre-trial conference, are VACATED and taken off calendar until the Court rules on the pending Motions for Summary Judgment. (ECF Nos. 236, 237). (See order for details). (shb)

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1 2 3 4 5 United States District Court Central District of California 6 7 8 9 PATRICIA STEWART, D.O., Case № 5:13-cv-1670-ODW(DTBx) Plaintiff, 10 v. 11 ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE RE: 12 AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF 13 PHYSICIAN SPECIALISTS, INC.; 14 WILLIAM CARBONE; ROBERT 15 CERRATO; STEPHEN MONTES; 16 SUSAN SLOMINSKI; SVETLANA 17 SANCTIONS RUBAKOVIC, Defendants. 18 19 In light of the extremely high number of Ex Parte Applications, Requests, and 20 Motions in the above titled case and discord amongst the parties, the Court hereby 21 ORDERS the parties TO SHOW CAUSE, in person, on October 5, 2015 at 1:30 22 p.m. in Courtroom 11, why Plaintiff’s counsel and Defendant’s counsel should not 23 be sanctioned for the reasons set forth herein, and why Mr. Okerblom should not be 24 removed as counsel from this case. All other dates and deadlines in this action, 25 including the pre-trial conference, are VACATED and taken off calendar until the 26 Court rules on the pending Motions for Summary Judgment. (ECF Nos. 236, 237). At the OSC hearing, the parties will be expected to address the following: 27 28 /// 1 1. Grounds for Sanctions 2 a. Pursuant to this Court’s Scheduling and Case Management Order (ECF 3 No. 168), the parties were required to file the Final Pre-Trial Conference 4 Order no later than September 28, 2015. Under Local Rule 16-7.1, 5 responsibility for the filing of the Final Pre-Trial Conference Order rests 6 with Plaintiff. Plaintiff’s counsel filed it on September 30, 2015, two 7 days after it was due. (ECF Nos. 311, 312.) 8 b. Defendants’ Motion for Monetary Sanctions for Abuse of Discovery 9 (ECF No. 234) alleges improper conduct against Plaintiff’s counsel, Dr. 10 William Okerblom, for filing frivolous and ill-conceived motions 11 resulting in needless delay and frustrating Defendants’ attempts to depose 12 him as a fact witness. Defendants cite many examples of such conduct in 13 their papers. Dr. Okerblom claims in his untimely Opposition (ECF No. 14 239) that he was not trying to frustrate Defendants’ attempts to depose 15 him, but was merely trying to limit the scope of the deposition. This 16 Motion is currently pending before the Court, and may be ruled on by the 17 Court at the OSC hearing. 18 19 c. The parties failed to conduct the mandatory pre-trial meeting of counsel. L.R. 16-2. (ECF Nos. 257, 258.) 20 d. Plaintiff filed a Notice of Misleading Testimony (ECF No. 268) as an 21 additional, unauthorized opposition to Defendants’ Motion for Summary 22 Judgment. Dr. Okerblom later requested to withdraw the Notice, and 23 essentially admitted that the document was frivolous. (ECF No. 283.) 24 Counsel should be prepared to explain to the Court why they should not be 25 sanctioned for this conduct, for their lack of professional civility toward each other, 26 and for their utter failure to follow the rules of this Court. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 11; Fink 27 v. Gomez, 239 F.3d 989, 992 (9th Cir. 2001) (“[T]he district court has the inherent 28 authority to impose sanctions for bad faith, which includes a broad range of willful 2 1 2 improper conduct.”). 2. Dr. Okerblom’s Continued Representation 3 On September 9, 2015, Dr. Okerblom filed an Ex Parte Application for an 4 Order Permitting Plaintiff to Withdraw as Attorney and for a Two Month Stay. (ECF 5 No. 271.) Dr. Okerblom stated that his ability to serve as counsel and to adequately 6 represent his client was “adversely affected” when he became a witness in this case on 7 August 14, 2015. (Ex Parte Appl. 2.) In the Application, Okerblom “takes full 8 responsibility for his error in judgment that led him to believe that he could serve both 9 as a witness and as a zealous advocate simultaneously” and he admits that “being 10 personally involved in the case has caused him to make mistakes that he otherwise 11 would not have made.” (Id. at 2–3.) Dr. Okerblom also requested a two month stay in 12 the case so that he may obtain and prepare new counsel. (Id.) Defendants indicated 13 their intent to oppose to this Application, but never ultimately filed an opposition. (Id. 14 at 2.) 15 On September 14, 2015, Dr. Okerblom filed a Notice to Withdraw the 16 Application. (ECF No. 285.) This Notice was improperly filed. (ECF No. 287.) In 17 the Notice, Dr. Okerblom stated that he is seeking co-counsel to assist him at the time 18 of trial in the event that he is required to testify at trial as a witness. 19 /// 20 /// 21 /// 22 /// 23 /// 24 /// 25 /// 26 /// 27 /// 28 /// 3 1 The parties should be prepared to explain to the Court why Dr. Okerblom 2 should not be removed as counsel in this action given that (1) he appears to be a 3 witness in this action, and (2) he has admitted that he cannot effectively represent his 4 client in this action. 5 6 IT IS SO ORDERED. 7 October 1, 2015 8 9 10 ____________________________________ OTIS D. WRIGHT, II UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 4

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