COLLIER v. UNITED STATES OF AMERICA et al
ENTRY ON PLAINTIFF'S COUNSEL'S MOTIONS TO WITHDRAW - The Court cannot grant Counsel's motions without effecting substantial prejudice upon Mr. Collier, this Court, and Defendants. Given the impending critical case deadlines and the time and effort put into this case to-date, the Court DENIES Plaintiff's Counsel's verified motions to withdraw. [Dkt. 140 ; Dkt. 141 ; Dkt. 142 (SEE ENTRY). Signed by Magistrate Judge Mark J. Dinsmore on 6/20/2017. (DW)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF INDIANA
TERRE HAUTE DIVISION
ANTHONY LEON COLLIER,
JOHN F. CARAWAY,
ENTRY ON PLAINTIFF’S COUNSEL’S MOTIONS TO WITHDRAW
This matter is before the Court on Plaintiff’s Counsel’s (collectively, “Counsel”) verified
motions to withdraw as counsel. [Dkt. 140; Dkt. 141; Dkt. 142.] On June 19, 2017, the Court
held an ex parte hearing on Counsel’s motions. Plaintiff appeared in person and by attorneys
Brandon Hall and Lindsay Llewellyn.
The conduct of counsel in this court is governed by the Rules of Professional Conduct
adopted by the Supreme Court of Indiana. S.D. Ind. L.R. 83-5(e). Rule 1.16 of the Rules of
Professional Conduct governs termination of representation. Counsel seek withdrawal
pursuant to Rule 1.16(b)(6), which provides, in relevant part, that a lawyer may withdraw from
representing a client if “the representation will result in an unreasonable financial burden on
the lawyer . . . ,” Ind. R. Prof’l Conduct 1.16(b)(6), on the basis that, in Counsel’s estimation,
Plaintiff’s case is no longer economically feasible for them to pursue.
When an attorney seeks to withdraw from a case, the court must consider the interests not
only of the counsel but also the client, the other parties, and the court. See Burns v. Gen. Motors
Corp., No. 1:06-CV-0499-DFH-WTL, 2007 WL 4438622, at *1 (S.D. Ind. Nov. 30, 2007)
(Hamilton, J.) (denying a motion to withdraw six weeks before trial); see also Brown v. City of
Fort Wayne, 2011 WL 3423783 (N.D. Ind. 2011) (denying a motion to withdraw eight weeks
before trial). As Judge Hamilton observed in Burns,
Because of the challenges that a pro se party can pose for both the court and the
opposing party, the court does not routinely grant motions to withdraw. Too often,
a plaintiff's attorney will seek to withdraw from a weak case, leaving the case like
an orphan on the court's and the opponent's doorstep. The court and the opponent
are thus left the task of educating the pro se party about applicable law and
procedure, and often about the weaknesses in his case.
2007 WL 4438622, at *2; see JMB Mfg., Inc. v. Child Craft, LLC, 799 F.3d 780, 792–93 (7th
Cir. 2015) (“Another option would have been to require Summit’s prior counsel to continue
representing Summit at trial. After all, that lawyer had filed the case in the first place. He . . .
[was] obliged to protect the court . . . from prejudice resulting from problems in his relationship
with his client.”); Ind. R. Prof’l Conduct 1.16(c) (“When ordered to do so by a tribunal, a lawyer
shall continue representation notwithstanding good cause for terminating the representation.”).
Attorney Brandon Hall first appeared in this matter on February 22, 2016. [Dkt. 60.]
Attorney Lindsay Llewellyn appeared for Plaintiff on February 22, 2017. [Dkt. 105.]
Attorney Betsy Greene appeared for Plaintiff on June 2, 2017. [Dkt. 134.]
Mr. Hall represented to the Court that he and his firm determined that this matter was
no longer economically feasible to pursue following the Court’s January 24, 2017 order
denying Plaintiff’s request to amend his complaint a second time to assert a claim under the
Federal Tort Claims Act (“FTCA”). [Dkt. 97.] Ms. Llewellyn confirmed such was the basis
underlying her motion to withdraw as well. The Court notes that, while Mr. Hall has been
Plaintiff’s counsel for nearly 16 months, both Ms. Greene and Ms. Llewellyn appeared after
the Court’s January 24, 2017 denial of leave for Plaintiff to assert an FTCA claim in this case.
Counsel’s economic unfeasibility arguments are significantly undercut by both the significant
delay in seeking leave to withdraw following the Court’s January 24, 2017 order, and the fact
that two of the counsel who now seek to withdraw initially appeared after that order was
Furthermore, on June 2, 2017, counsel for Plaintiff filed a motion to extend the
deadline for Plaintiff’s liability expert disclosures. [Dkt. 135.] Pursuant to that motion,
Plaintiff’s expert liability disclosure cutoff was extended by the Court to June 30, 2017. [Dkt.
139.] Liability discovery closes in just over two months. [Dkt. 10.] And the dispositive
motion deadline looms only three months away. [Dkt. 108.] The timing of Plaintiff’s motion
to enlarge the expert disclosure deadline, coupled with Counsel’s representations that the
determination that Plaintiff’s case is no longer economically feasible for them to pursue was
made months earlier, raises serious concerns that the bases articulated by Plaintiff’s counsel in
the motion—that “2. Despite the best efforts of Plaintiff’s counsel, an expert as to liability
issues could not be found prior to the deadline.” and “3. Counsel for Plaintiff intends on
utilizing an expert for liability matters, but would require additional time to secure said
expert.” [Dkt. 135 ¶¶ 2-3.]—were really nothing more than Plaintiff’s counsel’s effort to
create a window of opportunity to facilitate their withdrawal.
Under these circumstances, the Court cannot grant Counsel’s motions without effecting
substantial prejudice upon Mr. Collier, this Court, and Defendants. Given the impending
critical case deadlines and the time and effort put into this case to-date, the Court DENIES
Plaintiff’s Counsel’s verified motions to withdraw. [Dkt. 140; Dkt. 141; Dkt. 142.]
Dated: 19 JUN 2017
Service will be made electronically
on all ECF-registered counsel of record via
email generated by the court’s ECF system.
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