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Cramton v. Grabbagreen Franchising, LLC

United States District Court, D. Arizona

June 17, 2019

Kim Cramton, Plaintiff,
v.
Grabbagreen Franchising LLC, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER

          Dominic W. Lanza United Slates District Judge

         On June 7, 2019, attorneys Erin A. Hertzog, Jeff Bouma, Larry Cohen, and Joel Fugate of Cronus Law, PLLC (“Cronus”) filed a “Notice of Substitution of Counsel” (“Notice”), purporting to inform the Court that they were substituting themselves into this action as counsel for Defendants/Counterclaimants Grabbagreen Franchising, LLC, Eat Clean Operations, LLC, Eat Clean Holdings, LLC, and Keely Newman, currently represented by Tiffany & Bosco PA (“T&B”). (Doc. 187.) This is impermissible. Pursuant to LRCiv 83.3(b), a notice will suffice only when there is a change of counsel within the same law office. Otherwise, “no attorney shall be permitted to withdraw or be substituted as attorney of record in any pending action except by formal written order of the Court, supported by written application setting forth the reasons therefor, ” and following certain procedural requirements. LRCiv 83.3(b).

         The docket in this action appears to inaccurately reflect the representation of Defendants/Counterclaimants Grabbagreen Franchising, LLC, Eat Clean Operations, LLC, Eat Clean Holdings, LLC, and Keely Newman, as well as Defendant/Counterclaimant Kelli Newman and Counterclaimant Gulf Girl Squared Incorporated. Rather than attempting to summarize the convoluted representations as currently listed in the docket, the Court will instead explain what happened.

         As of April 16, 2019, all of the above-mentioned parties were represented by T&B attorneys Jack Robert Vrablik, Robert A. Royal, and Erin A. Hertzog.[1] (E.g., Docs. 163, 172.)

         On April 26, 2019, Erin Hertzog (at that time an attorney at T&B, currently an attorney at Cronus) filed-on T&B letterhead-a “Notice of Disassociation of Counsel” (Doc. 174), stating: “Pursuant to Local Rule of Civil Procedure 83.3(b)(4), Erin A. Hertzog, an attorney of record for Defendants/Counterclaimants Grabbagreen Franchising, LLC, Eat Clean Operations, LLC, Eat Clean Holdings, LLC, Gulf Girl Squared, Inc., Kelli Newman and Keely Newman, is withdrawing her association as an attorney of record for Defendants/Counterclaimants Grabbagreen Franchising, LLC, Eat Clean Operations, LLC, Eat Clean Holdings, LLC, Gulf Girl Squared, Inc., Kelli Newman and Keely Newman in the above-referenced matter. All communications, pleadings, correspondence and the like shall be directed to Defendants'/Counterclaimants' lead counsel of record, Robert A. Royal, as of the date of this filing.” Thus, after this filing, Erin Hertzog represented no one in this action, and all of the above-mentioned parties were represented by T&B attorneys Jack Robert Vrablik and Robert A. Royal only.

         On May 15, 2019, Defendant/Counterclaimant Kelli Newman (not her spouse, Keely Newman) filed her Ex Parte Motion for Withdrawal of Counsel and Substitution As Self-Represented Litigant. (Doc. 176.) On May 16, 2019, the Court granted the motion. (Doc. 178.)

         Thus, as of May 16, 2019, Kelli Newman appeared pro se, and all of the other above-mentioned parties were represented by T&B attorneys Jack Robert Vrablik and Robert A. Royal. Indeed, all of the filings from May 16, 2019 for all of the Defendants/Counterclaimants except Kelli Newman have been filed by T&B attorneys Vrablik and Royal, as recently as June 3, 2019 (Doc. 185), until terminated attorney Erin Hertzog purported to file a “Notice” substituting Cronus attorneys Erin Hertzog, Larry Cohen, Jeff Bouma, and Joel Fugate on June 7, 2019. (Doc. 187.)

         To the extent that the “Notice” at Doc. 187 can be construed as a motion, it will be denied for failure to conform with the requirements of LRCiv 83.3. Thus, Defendant/Counterclaimant Kelli Newman remains pro se (for both her defense and counterclaim), Defendants/Counterclaimants Grabbagreen Franchising, LLC, Eat Clean Operations, LLC, Eat Clean Holdings, LLC, and Keely Newman remain represented (in their defenses and counterclaims) by T&B attorneys Jack Robert Vrablik and Robert A. Royal, and Counterclaimant Gulf Girl Squared Incorporated likewise remains represented by T&B attorneys Jack Robert Vrablik and Robert A. Royal. No. party in this action is currently represented by Cronus attorneys Erin Hertzog, Larry Cohen, Jeff Bouma, and Joel Fugate, because they have not yet sought and obtained an Order from the Court permitting them to be substituted as counsel of record. Thus, the Court will not consider the statement of discovery dispute (Doc. 188), filed by Cronus attorney Erin Hertzog, unless and until Ms. Hertzog becomes counsel of record for the parties she purports to represent in this action.

         Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED that the “Notice” (Doc. 187) is denied. The Clerk of Court is directed to update the docket to indicate that Defendant/Counterclaimant Kelli Newman is pro se (for both her defense and counterclaim) pursuant to the Court's May 16, 2019 Order (Doc. 178), Defendants/Counterclaimants Grabbagreen Franchising, LLC, Eat Clean Operations, LLC, Eat Clean Holdings, LLC, and Keely Newman are represented (in their defenses and counterclaims) by T&B attorneys Jack Robert Vrablik and Robert A. Royal, and Counterclaimant Gulf Girl Squared Incorporated likewise is represented by T&B attorneys Jack Robert Vrablik and Robert A. Royal. The docket should reflect that Erin Hertzog was terminated per her April 26, 2019 “Notice of Disassociation of Counsel” (Doc. … 174). The docket should further reflect that Cronus attorneys Larry Cohen, Jeff Bouma, and Joel Fugate have never represented any party in this action.

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Notes:

[1] T&B attorney Amy D. Sells appears in the signature block on various filings but apparently never appeared in this action as counsel of record, as ...


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