Monday, December 19, 2011

Multiple Withdrawals of Plaintiff’s Counsel Warrants Dismissal for Failure to Prosecute or $100K Sanction

Where a corporate plaintiff was without counsel after withdrawal of three sets of attorneys, the court ordered that it would dismiss plaintiff's cases for failure to prosecute unless plaintiff retained new counsel within a month and paid $100,000 as a financial sanction to compensate defendants for expenses incurred during the delay. "The record is clear that the Plaintiff is personally responsible for its lack of counsel. Plaintiff may or may not be able to pay counsel. Plaintiff claims to have funds but to not be able to get to them. It's clear that Plaintiffs principal is a difficult personality who has clashed with multiple well-respected attorneys and law firms, and is not good about following the directions of the Court. When the various law firms and lawyers have all moved to withdraw for irreconcilable differences, it is the responsibility of the Plaintiff. The only reasonable interpretation of the cryptic withdrawal motion of the last set of attorneys is that the Plaintiff reneged on some financial arrangement. The prejudice to the defendants arises from the delay. . . . It does not make sense to me that if new counsel do enter an appearance [by the deadline next month], the case should just go on as if the last six-to-eleven months had not happened. An intermediate sanction that would allow the case to continue is a financial one. . . . Thus, the Court is conditioning continuance of this litigation on the payment of sanctions, and will require the deposit of $100,000 into the Clerk's Office by [the deadline]. . . . If [defendants'] expenses are less than $50,000 for either or both of the two defendants, any excess funds will be returned."

WebXchange Inc. v. Dell Inc., 1-08-cv-00132 (DED December 15, 2011, Order) (Andrews, J.)

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