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Jinni Tech, Ltd v. Red.Com, Inc

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle

June 24, 2019

JINNI TECH, LTD., et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
RED.COM, INC., et al., Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO WITHDRAW

          JAMES L. ROBART, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Before the court is Philip Mann's unopposed motion to withdraw as counsel for Plaintiffs Jinni Tech, Ltd. (“Jinni Tech”) and Bruce Royce (collectively, “Plaintiffs”). (5/18/19 MTW (Dkt. # 67).) This matter is currently stayed (see 10/26/18 Order (Dkt. # 59)), but the court finds good cause to lift the stay for the limited purpose of resolving this motion. Having considered the motion, the submissions concerning the motion, the relevant portions of the record, and the applicable law, the court GRANTS Mr. Mann's motion to withdraw as specified herein.

         II. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiffs filed suit on February 10, 2017, against Defendants RED.com, Inc. and RED.com, LLC (collectively, “Defendants” or “RED”), alleging claims arising out of competing filmmaking products manufactured and sold by the parties. (See Compl. (Dkt. # 1); see also FAC (Dkt. # 10).) A month after Plaintiffs filed suit, on March 2, 2017, RED.com, Inc. brought an action against Jinni Tech and Mr. Royce in the Central District of California, alleging patent infringement, trademark infringement, and other violations of federal and state law. See generally Red.com, Inc. v. Jinni Tech, Ltd., No. 8:17-cv-00382-CJC-KES, Dkt. # 1 (C.D. Cal.) (“the California case”). The California case was scheduled for trial on May 7, 2019. (See MTS (Dkt. # 49) at 5; 10/26/18 Order at 6.) This case was scheduled for trial on August 19, 2019. (See 10/26/18 Order at 6; Sched. Order (Dkt. # 24) at 1.)

         After various motions by the parties in both courts (see 10/26/18 Order at 4-5), the court stayed this action pending resolution of the California case (see generally id.). The court explained the parameters of the stay as follows:

[E]xcept for matters related to discovery, the court stays this case until the proceedings before the Central District of California are complete. During this stay, however, the parties must continue conducting discovery according to the current scheduling order. The discovery cutoff date of March 8, 2019, remains in effect, as does the deadline for filing motions related to discovery. This stay will permit the court to conserve resources and benefit from the California case's disposition of the patent claims. This limited stay, which addresses Defendants' concerns about completing discovery, will work minimal hardship, if any, on the parties, and will guard against the risk of inconsistent rulings.
Within fourteen (14) days of completion of the proceedings before the Central District of California, the parties shall file a joint status report, briefly outlining the resolution of the California case and proposing a new case schedule. In addition, should circumstances otherwise change such that lifting the stay is warranted, either party may move to lift the stay. Once the stay is lifted, the court will enter a new scheduling order as soon as practicable.

(Id. at 15-16 (internal citations omitted).) The parties have not yet filed a joint status report informing the court that the California case has resolved. (See Dkt.)

         Mr. Mann is Plaintiffs' third counsel who has appeared in this matter. Plaintiffs were first represented by Bailey Duquette PC[1] when they filed their complaint. (See Dkt.; Compl. at 26.) On May 22, 2017, Lane Powell PC appeared on behalf of Plaintiffs and, the next day, filed Plaintiffs' first amended complaint. (See 5/22/17 Notice (Dkt. # 9); FAC at 29.) On June 6, 2017, Bailey Duquette PC withdrew as counsel for Plaintiffs, leaving Plaintiffs represented by only Lane Powell PC. (See 6/6/17 Withdrawal (Dkt. # 14).) On July 9, 2018, Lane Powell PC moved to withdraw due to “professional considerations, ” in part because they did “not believe that the advice they provide w[ould] materially aid [Plaintiffs] and that [Plaintiffs] w[ould] be better served by other attorneys.” (7/9/18 MTW (Dkt. # 42) at 2-3.) The court granted Lane Powell PC's motion, making July 25, 2018, the effective date of withdrawal. (See 7/10/18 Order (Dkt. # 44); 7/11/18 Order (Dkt. # 47).) On July 25, 2018, Mr. Mann entered a notice of appearance on behalf of Plaintiffs. (See 7/25/18 Notice (Dkt. # 48).)

         Mr. Mann now brings the present unopposed motion to withdraw as Plaintiffs' counsel.[2] (See 5/18/19 MTW.) Although Mr. Mann does not detail the bases for his motion because they implicate sensitive matters concerning the attorney-client relationship, Mr. Mann asserts that, in his professional judgment, “he is no longer able to provide effective representation to Mr. Royce and Jinni Tech and that Plaintiffs would be better served with other lawyers.” (Id. at 4.; Mann Decl. (Dkt. # 67-1) ¶ 3.) Mr. Mann explains that he has on “several” occasions “notified Mr. Royce and Jinni Tech, Ltd. of [his] intent to withdraw from this matter” “pursuant to the provisions of the representation agreement [he] entered with [Plaintiffs], ” including in an email that he sent on May 18, 2019, “that was received” by Mr. Royce. (Mann Decl. ¶ 4.) In fact, according to Mr. Mann, “Mr. Royce has formally discharged [Mr. Mann] as his counsel in this matter.” (Id.) Mr. Mann further states that he informed Plaintiffs that Jinni Tech “is required by law to be represented by an attorney . . . and that failure to obtain a replacement attorney by the date the withdrawal is effective may result in the dismissal of Jinni Tech, Ltd.'s claims for failure to prosecute and/or entry of default against Jinni Tech, Ltd. as to any claims of other parties.” (Id. ¶ 5.)

         III. ANALYSIS

         Under Local Rule 83.2, “[n]o attorney shall withdraw an appearance in any case, civil or criminal, except by leave of court. . . . The attorney will ordinarily be permitted to withdraw until sixty days before the discovery cut off date in a civil case.” See Local Rules W.D. Wash. LCR 83.2(b)(1). Further:

A business entity, except a sole proprietorship, must be represented by counsel. If the attorney for a business entity, except a sole proprietorship, is seeking to withdraw, the attorney shall certify to the court that he or she has advised the business entity that it is required by law to be represented by an attorney admitted to practice before this court and that failure to obtain a replacement attorney by the date the withdrawal is effective may result in the dismissal of the business ...

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