THE INDEPENDENCE PROJECT, INC. et al v. GATOR WESTFIELD, LLC
LETTER OPINION & ORDER granting 149 Motion to Withdraw as Attorney; Defendants must obtain new counsel on or before 3/15/2021; Mr. Yellin is directed to serve Defendants with copies of this Letter order within 3 business days; etc. Attorney MICHAEL REDMOND YELLIN; RANDI W. KOCHMAN and EMILY PARK terminated. Signed by Chief Mag. Judge Mark Falk on 2/16/2021. (sm)
Case 2:17-cv-05051-CCC-MF Document 152 Filed 02/16/21 Page 1 of 2 PageID: 1520
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
CHAMBERS OF MARK FALK
CHIEF MAGISTRATE JUDGE
USPO & COURTHOUSE
1 FEDERAL SQ., ROOM 457
LETTER OPINION & ORDER
Alan R. Ackerman, Esq.
1719 Route 10 East
Parsippany, NJ 07054
Attorney for Plaintiffs,
The Independence Project, Inc.,
and Ronald Moore
February 16, 2021
Michael R. Yellin, Esq.
Cole Schotz, P.C.
Court Plaza North
25 Main St.
Hackensack, New Jersey 07601
Attorney for Defendants,
Gator Westfield, LLC and
James Goldsmith as Trustee of
the Stuart O. Goldsmith 2012 Family Trust-Westfield
Re: The Independence Project, et al. v. Gator Westfield, LLC, et al.
Civ. A. No. 17-5051 (CCC)
Before the Court is the motion of Cole Schotz P.C. (“Cole Schotz”) to withdraw
as counsel for Defendants Gator Westfield LCC and James Goldsmith as Trustee of the
Stuart O. Goldsmith 2012 Family Trust-Westfield. (Docket Entry No. 149.) No
opposition has been submitted. No oral argument is necessary. See Fed. R. Civ. P.
78(b). For the reasons below, the motion is GRANTED, subject to the conditions
Plaintiffs filed their complaint on July 11, 2017. The complaint alleges, inter
alia, that Defendant’s property – Westfield Plaza in Westfield – fails to comply with the
Case 2:17-cv-05051-CCC-MF Document 152 Filed 02/16/21 Page 2 of 2 PageID: 1521
Americans With Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12101, et seq. On August 8, 2017, Cole
Schotz entered an appearance on behalf of the defendants. After a winding procedural
history, on December 18, 2020, Cole Schotz filed its motion to withdraw as counsel.
Cole Schotz’s motion to withdraw is governed by Local Civil Rule 102.1 and New
Jersey Rule of Professional Conduct 1.16(b). See United States ex rel. Cherry Hill
Convalescent Ctr., Inc. v. Healthcare Rehab Sys., Inc., 994 F. Supp. 244, 252-53 (D.N.J.
1997). Courts in this district also balance four factors when considering a motion to
withdraw as counsel. The factors are: “(1) the reason withdrawal is sought; (2) the
prejudice withdrawal may cause to other litigants; (3) the harm withdrawal may cause to
the administration of justice; and (4) the degree to which withdrawal may delay resolution
of the case.” Id. (internal citations omitted).
Defendants’ attorney represents that there has been an “irreconcilable breakdown”
in the attorney-client relationship between defendants and Cole Schotz that makes
continued representation “impossible.” (Declaration of Michael Yellin, Esq., ¶¶ 3-4.)
Having considered the papers submitted and the lack of opposition to the request, the
Court is satisfied that Cole Schotz has shown good cause to withdraw as counsel. The
breakdown in the attorney-client relationship precludes Cole Schotz from providing
appropriate representation. In addition, no party will be unduly prejudiced by Cole
Schotz’s withdrawal. Discovery is nearly complete, and therefore, any delay in the
resolution of this case will be minimal. As a result, Cole Schotz’s motion for leave to
withdraw as counsel is granted.
Both Defendants must retain substitute counsel or face the possible entry of
default and default judgment. Neither the LLC Defendant nor Mr. Goldsmith, acting as
Trustee, may appear in a federal case pro se. See Rowland v. California Men’s Colony,
506 U.S. 194, 201-02, 113 S. Ct. 716, 721 (1993); Marin v. Leslie, 337 Fed. Appx. 217,
219-20 (3d Cir. 2009).
Defendants must obtain new counsel on or before March 15, 2021. The failure to
do so will, upon application of Plaintiff, result in the undersigned issuing a
recommendation to the District Judge to strike the defendants’ answer and enter default.
See United States ex rel., 994 F. Supp. at 253
Mr. Yellin is directed to serve Defendants with copies of this Letter Order within 3
business days. Cole Schotz’s withdrawal is not effective until service has been made and
proof of same has been filed on the Court’s docket.
s/Mark Falk _________
Chief Magistrate Judge
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?