United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Terre Haute Division
ENTRY ON PLAINTIFF'S COUNSEL'S MOTIONS TO
J. DINSMORE JUDGE
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.
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.
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
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.”).
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.]
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
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, Plaintiffs
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 Plaintiffs case is no longer economically
feasible for them to pursue was made months earlier, raises
serious concerns that the bases articulated by Plaintiffs
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 Plaintiffs counsel's
effort to create a window of opportunity to facilitate their
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 ...