Brittney Gobble Photography, LLC v. Wenn Limited et al
ORDER granting 60 Motion to Withdraw as Attorney. Attorney Mills is RELIEVED of her duties as counsel in this case. The Defendants are hereby ADMONISHED that they are DEEMED to be proceeding pro se. Signed by Magistrate Judge C Clifford Shirley, Jr on 11/30/17. (copy mailed to WENN Ltd. and USA Entertainment News, Inc. at addresses provided in Doc. 60 ) (JBR)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF TENNESSEE
BRITTNEY GOBBLE PHOTOGRAPHY, LLC,
WENN LIMITED, and USA ENTERTAINMENT )
NEWS, INC., d/b/a/ “WENN” and “WORLD
ENTERTAINMENT NEWS NETWORK,”
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
This case is before the undersigned pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), the Rules of this Court,
and Standing Order 13-02.
Now before the Court is a Motion to Withdraw as Counsel [Doc. 60], filed by defense
counsel, Attorney Paige Mills. The parties appeared before the Court on November 28, 2017, for
a hearing on the Motion. Attorneys C. Dale Quisenberry and Heather Anderson appeared on behalf
of Plaintiff. Attorney Paige Mills appeared on behalf of Defendants. Lloyd Beiny, Defendants’
representative, appeared telephonically. Accordingly, for the reasons explained further below, the
Court finds the Motion [Doc. 60] well-taken, and it is GRANTED.
POSITIONS OF THE PARTIES
In her Motion, Attorney Mills [Doc. 60] requests that she be permitted to withdraw as
counsel of record for the Defendants. The Motion explains that she and her firm have fundamental
differences with Defendants about the appropriate and prudent conduct of this litigation that makes
their continued representation of Defendants untenable. Further, the Motion states that Defendants
have failed to fulfill an obligation to counsel regarding counsel’s services and has been given
reasonable warning that counsel will seek to withdraw unless such obligation is fulfilled.
Defendants’ representative, Lloyd Beiny, consented to the Motion via email, which is attached as
an exhibit to the Motion.
Plaintiff objects [Doc. 66] to the Motion, stating that a corporation cannot represent itself
in federal court. Plaintiff states that granting the Motion without substitute counsel would
substantially delay the action and prejudice it. Plaintiff continues that they are already being
prejudiced by defense counsel’s “pencils down” approach.
By way of background, the Court originally scheduled a telephone conference for
November 15, 2017, over a discovery dispute. A few days before the telephone conference,
defense counsel filed the instant Motion. During the November 15 telephone conference, the Court
advised the parties of its concerns regarding unrepresented corporations. The Court continued the
hearing to November 17, 2017, to discuss Beiny’s availability to attend a hearing on the Motion
to Withdraw. Subsequently, on November 17, 2017, the Court held another telephonic conference,
wherein the Court set a hearing on the Motion to Withdraw for November 28, 2017, so that Beiny
could attend the hearing. Later, Beiny reported to the Court that he could not attend the hearing,
citing financial reasons, and that he would appear via telephone.
During the November 28 hearing, the Court addressed the Motion to Withdraw and several
discovery disputes between the parties.
Motion to Withdraw
As mentioned above, the Court conducted a hearing on November 28, 2017, wherein the
undersigned reiterated its concerns regarding unrepresented corporations. The Court explained to
Beiny that a corporation may only appear in federal court through a licensed counsel and
emphasized that Defendants must retain counsel if they wanted to continue to defend this case and
prosecute their counterclaims. See In re Classicstar Mare Lease Litigation, No. 5:07-cv-353, 2009
WL 1468594, at *1 (E.D. Ky. May, 13, 2009) (noting that corporations, partnerships, and
associations cannot appear in federal court except through a licensed attorney). The Court also
warned Beiny of the potential consequences if the Defendants did not obtain new counsel (e.g.,
default judgment being entered against them and/or their counterclaims being dismissed). Beiny
stated that he understood the consequences and that he consented to Attorney Mills withdrawing
from the case.
Pursuant to Local Rule 83.4, in order to withdraw from a case, an attorney must do the
(1) File a motion with the Court requesting permission to
withdraw as counsel of record;
(2) Include in the motion the current mailing address and
telephone number of the client;
(3) Unless the motion is signed by both the attorney and the
client or a consent to the withdrawal signed by the client is
attached to the motion, provide a copy of the motion to the
client at least 14 days prior to the date the motion is filed;
(4) If a hearing date on the motion is set, certify in writing to
the Court that the client was served at least 7 days before the
hearing with notice (i) of the date, time, and place of hearing
and (ii) that the client as a right to appear and be heard on
the motion; and
(5) Certify to the Court that the above requirements have
Further, with respect to corporations “that may only appear in court through counsel, the
Court, absent extraordinary circumstances, shall not allow the attorney to withdraw until the client
has obtained substitute counsel.” See E.D. Tenn. L.R. 83.4(g)
In the present matter, the Court finds that Attorney Mills’s Motion to Withdraw complies
with the Local Rules, and the Motion [Doc. 60] is hereby GRANTED. Defendants have failed to
fulfill their obligations regarding counsel’s services and has been given reasonable warning with
respect to counsel withdrawing from this case. The Court expects Attorney Mills to provide copies
of any relevant documents to any future counsel for Defendants or directly to Defendants upon
request. Attorney Mills is RELIEVED of her duties as counsel in this case. The Defendants are
hereby ADMONISHED that they are DEEMED to be proceeding pro se. The Court highly
recommends that Defendants find substitute counsel in this case. See Doherty v. Am. Motors
Corp., 728 F.2d 334, 340 (6th Cir. 1984) (“The rule of this circuit is that a corporation cannot
appear in federal court except through an attorney.”).
As mentioned above, during the hearing, the Court also addressed Plaintiff’s discoveryrelated requests. Specifically, Beiny agreed to provide Plaintiff with the following documents: (1)
Defendants’ bank statements for the past year, (2) Defendants’ tax returns from the previous year;
and (3) Defendants’ agreements with its other customers who were previously identified by
Defendants (and similar to the documents that Sinclair provided to Plaintiffs). In addition, Beiny
agreed to be deposed on December 1, 2017, in Los Angeles.
Accordingly, the Court finds the Motion to Withdraw [Doc. 60] well-taken, and it is
GRANTED. The Court further ORDERS as follows:
(1) Beiny shall provide Plaintiff with Defendants’ banks statements
for the past year;
(2) Beiny shall provide Plaintiff with Defendants’ tax returns from
the previous year;
(3) Beiny shall provide Plaintiff with its customer agreements,
(similar to the documents produced by Sinclair to Plaintiff); and
(4) Beiny shall provide his deposition testimony on December 1,
2017, in Los Angeles.
Finally, the Clerk of Court is DIRECTED to update CM/ECF with the addresses of
Defendants as provided in the Motion [Doc. 60].
IT IS SO ORDERED.
s/ C. Clifford Shirley, Jr.
United States Magistrate Judge
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