Theresa Brooke v. SB Hospitality Palm Springs LLC

Filing 24

ORDER GRANTING CORRECTED MOTION TO WITHDRAW AS COUNSEL #21 AND DENYING AS MOOT MOTION TO WITHDRAW #19 by Judge Otis D. Wright, II: The Court orders Defendant to obtain new counsel by February 6, 2017. If Defendant fails to obtain new counsel by that date, the Court will strike its answer and enter a default. (lc). Modified on 1/17/2017 .(lc).

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1 O 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 United States District Court Central District of California 9 10 11 12 THERESA BROOKE, an individual, Plaintiff, 13 v. 14 15 16 17 18 Case No. 5:16-CV-00953-ODW(SS) ORDER GRANTING CORRECTED SB HOSPITALITY PALM SPRINGS MOTION TO WITHDRAW AS LLC, a California Limited Liability COUNSEL [21] AND DENYING AS Company, doing business as COMFORT MOOT MOTION TO WITHDRAW INN PALM SPRINGS DOWNTOWN, [19] Defendant. 19 20 I. 21 INTRODUCTION 22 Before the Court is Aaron Garcia’s corrected motion to withdraw as counsel for 23 Defendant SB Hospitality Palm Springs, LLC. (ECF No. 21.) Plaintiff Theresa 24 Brooke has not opposed the motion. For the following reasons, the Court GRANTS 25 the motion to withdraw and orders Defendant to obtain new counsel by February 6, 26 2017.1 27 28 1 After carefully considering the papers filed in support of the motion, the Court deems the matter appropriate for decision without oral argument. Fed. R. Civ. P. 78; C.D. Cal. L.R. 7-15. II. 1 FACTUAL BACKGROUND 2 Plaintiff is “a disabled woman bound to a wheelchair.” (Compl. ¶ 3, ECF No. 3 1.) Defendant is the owner and operator of Comfort Inn Palm Springs Downtown 4 (“Comfort Inn”), a hotel. (Id. ¶ 2.) Plaintiff alleges that she was considering a trip to 5 the Palm Springs area and contacted Comfort Inn to ascertain whether its swimming 6 pool or Jacuzzi had a “pool lift or other means of access” that would allow disabled 7 persons such as herself to use those amenities. (Id. ¶ 24.) Defendant’s representative 8 allegedly told Plaintiff that neither the pool nor the Jacuzzi possessed such features. 9 (Id.) Plaintiff alleges that these barriers deterred her from seeking accommodations at 10 Comfort Inn. (Id. ¶ 31.) On May 10, 2016, Plaintiff filed the pending case against 11 Defendant alleging violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the California 12 Unruh Civil Rights Act, and the California Disabled Persons Act. (Id. ¶ 1.) 13 Defendant’s attorney, Aaron Garcia, moved to withdraw as counsel of record on 14 January 3, 2017. (ECF No. 19.) However, that motion contained several technical 15 errors, including an improper caption. (ECF No. 20.) He then filed this corrected 16 motion to withdraw on January 4, 2017. (ECF No. 21.) Garcia served the motion on 17 both his client and Plaintiff, but neither filed a timely opposition. (ECF No. 21-4.) III. 18 LEGAL STANDARD 19 According to the Local Rules governing this Court, “[a]n attorney may not 20 withdraw as counsel except by leave of court.” C.D. Cal. L.R. 83-2.3.2; see also 21 Darby v. City of Torrance, 810 F. Supp. 275, 276 (C.D. Cal. 1992). “A motion for 22 leave to withdraw must be made upon written notice given reasonably in advance to 23 the client and to all other parties who have appeared in the action,” and must be for 24 good cause. C.D. Cal. L.R. 83-2.3.2. The Court has discretion to grant or deny a 25 motion to withdraw as counsel. See, e.g., Huntington Learning Ctrs., Inc. v. Educ. 26 Gateway, Inc., No. CV 09-3200 PSG (VBKx), 2009 WL 2337863, at *1 (C.D. Cal. 27 June 28, 2009). 28 2 IV. 1 DISCUSSION 2 The Court finds that there is good cause for withdrawal. Mr. Garcia indicates in 3 one of his two declarations that “[d]espite emails, letters[,] and in office meetings,” his 4 client “absolutely fails and refuses to take [his] advice” and that continued 5 representation of Defendant would cause him to “violate the rules of professional 6 conduct.” (Garcia Decl. ¶ 2, ECF No. 21-2.) Mr. Garcia also indicates that he is 7 willing to provide a more “detailed” account of the reasons for his requested 8 withdrawal under seal. (Id. ¶ 4.) 9 Mr. Garcia’s declaration makes clear that the attorney-client relationship is 10 irreparably broken. (Id. ¶ 2.) Mr. Garcia cites numerous occasions on which his 11 client ignored his advice. 12 withdrawal under California Rule of Professional Conduct 3-700(C)(1)(d). See Cal. 13 R. Prof. Conduct 3-700(C)(1)(d) (permissive withdrawal allowed when the client’s 14 conduct “renders it unreasonably difficult for the member to carry out the employment 15 effectively”); see also Deal v. Countrywide Home Loans, No. C 09-01643 SBA, 2010 16 WL 3702459, at *2–4 (N.D. Cal. Sept. 15, 2010) (finding withdrawal warranted where 17 the client has made it unreasonably difficult to carry out the representation 18 effectively). (Id.) This type of conduct is sufficient to warrant 19 Mr. Garcia has complied with the Local Rules’ notice requirements. C.D. Cal. 20 L.R. 83-2.3.2. He served each party with notice of his intent to withdraw and warned 21 Defendant that a business entity may not appear pro se in federal court. (ECF Nos. 22 21-4, 23); see also C.D. Cal. L.R. 83-2.2.2 (“Only individuals may represent 23 themselves pro se. No organization or entity of any . . . kind . . . may appear in any 24 action or proceeding unless represented by an attorney permitted to practice before 25 this Court under L.R. 83-2.1.”); Rowland v. Cal. Men’s Colony, Unit II Men’s 26 Advisory Council, 506 U.S. 194, 201–02 (1993) (“It has been the law for the better 27 part of two centuries . . . that a corporation may appear in the federal courts only 28 through licensed counsel.”). 3 1 Finally, the Court finds that allowing Mr. Garcia’s withdrawal at this time 2 would not unduly delay resolution of this action or prejudice either party. 3 discovery-cutoff in this case is August 7, 2017, the last day for hearing motions is 4 September 11, 2017, and trial is scheduled for November 7, 2017. (See ECF No. 16.) 5 The earliest of those dates is still eight months away. V. 6 The CONCLUSION 7 For the reasons discussed above, the Court GRANTS the motion to withdraw. 8 (ECF No. 21.) The Court orders Defendant to obtain new counsel by February 6, 9 2017. If Defendant fails to obtain new counsel by that date, the Court will strike its 10 answer and enter a default. The original motion to withdraw is DENIED as MOOT. 11 (ECF No. 19.) 12 13 IT IS SO ORDERED. 14 January 17, 2017 15 16 17 ____________________________________ OTIS D. WRIGHT, II UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 4

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