Geotag v. Frontier Communications, et (seriously) al., 2:10cv265 (8/30/12)
Judge: Michael Schneider
Holding: Plaintiff's Opposed Motions to Withdraw as Counsel DENIED
This is actually Judge Schneider's second stay ruling in this case this week. The first, on Monday, was that the case was going to stay. The second on Thursday was that the lawyers were going to as well.
As the Court observed in denying a motion to stay these cases on Monday of this week given the pendency of a related action in Delaware, this litigation involves a number of related patent infringement cases. In approximately 72 cases, Plaintiff GeoTag, Inc. accuses over 400 defendants of infringing U.S. Patent No. 5,930,474 by providing various locator services on their commercial websites.
Two days later, late on Wednesday of this week, all three of the law firms representing Geotag in these cases moved to withdraw from the case. Late Thursday, Judge Schneider denied the motion without prejudice, noting that the motions provided no explanation for the termination of counsel.
"In agreeing to represent their client," Judge Schneider wrote, citing Tex. Disciplinary R. Prof'l Conduct 1.15 and Local Rule AT-3(A), "counsel is expected to continue representation through completion of the case. In addition to the duties counsel owes to its client, counsel 'must be ever conscious of the broader duty to the judicial system that serves both attorney and client.'" The Court also noted, citing TDR 1.15(c) that it may deny counsel's request to withdraw, even when counsel has good cause for his request. He continued:
Plaintiff’s Counsel has indicated that they no longer have the authority to represent Plaintiff in any matters related to this litigation. Of paramount concern is that no other counsel has appeared as substitute counsel for Plaintiff. “[T]he ‘clear’ rule is ‘that a corporation as a fictional legal person can only be represented by licensed counsel.” The Court cannot waive compliance with this rule, even in cases of severe financial hardship. On the eve of the deadlines related to claim construction, the Court will not grant withdrawal without substitute counsel capable of prosecuting Plaintiff’s claims within the scheduled time frame.
(Internal citations omitted). Accordingly, Judge Schneider ordered that:
- Within 14 days from the date of this Order, Plaintiff is ORDERED to file a notice with the Court stating whether it has secured new counsel or whether it will be dismissing this litigation.
- Plaintiff’s Counsel is to notify Plaintiff as to this Order and provide Plaintiff a copy via certified mail.
- Plaintiff is cautioned that its failure to respond to this Order may result in dismissal.
- The Court expects Plaintiff’s existing counsel to continue diligently prosecuting this litigation.
- The parties are reminded that all deadlines and appearances remain in effect.