Filing 152

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)

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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 NEWARK, NJ 07101 (973) 645-3110 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) Dear Counsel: 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 below. 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 _________ MARK FALK Chief Magistrate Judge

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