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Andrade v. Gaurino

United States District Court, D. Hawaii

July 16, 2019

MILLICENT ANDRADE, et al., Plaintiffs,
ABNER GAURINO, et al., Defendants.


          Jill A. Otake, United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff Millicent Andrade moves to dismiss her claims asserted in the First Amended Complaint. For the reasons stated below, the Court GRANTS the Motion subject to certain conditions.

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Facts

         As the parties and the Court are familiar with the history of this case, the Court includes only those facts relevant to the dismissal.

         Plaintiffs Millicent Andrade, her boyfriend Craig Stanley, The Edmon Keller and Cleavette Mae Stanley Family Trust (the “Trust”), and their limited liability company Atooi Aloha, LLC, filed the Complaint on June 26, 2016. ECF No. 1.[1] Plaintiffs have had eleven attorneys of record since then, all of whom have withdrawn. See, e.g., ECF No. 76 (withdrawal of Michael Jay Green and substitution of Cades Schutte); ECF No. 88 (order granting pro hac vice applications of Lawrence Ecoff, Alberto Campain, and Ginni Kim); ECF No. 276 (entering order granting Lawrence Ecoff, et al.'s motion to withdraw); ECF No. 382 (order granting Cade Schutte's motion to withdraw); ECF No. 383 (notice of appearance by David Robert Squeri, III); ECF No. 393 (motion to withdraw by David Robert Squeri, III); ECF No. 476 (hearing on William Shipley's oral motion to withdraw).

         The revolving door of Plaintiffs' attorneys has substantially delayed this litigation. In March 2018, Mr. Ecoff moved to withdraw after receiving an email from Plaintiff Andrade terminating him as counsel for Plaintiffs, “effective immediately.” ECF No. 264 at 4. Another attorney, Dennis Chong Kee, filed his motion to withdraw in December 2018, a month before the case was set to go to trial. ECF No. 374. The Court vacated the January trial date and held a status conference to discuss Plaintiffs' delay tactics. The Court set a firm trial date of July 8, 2019 and informed Plaintiffs that it would not tolerate any more games.

         Despite the Court's warnings, Plaintiffs were unable to get along with their next attorney. Mr. Squeri filed a motion to withdraw after only twelve days on the case due to “irreconcilable and unresolvable disputes” and “a breakdown of trust.” ECF No. 393 at 3. The Court found good cause for withdrawal and granted Mr. Squeri's motion. ECF No. 396. However, at this point Plaintiffs' repeated attorney hiring and firing had taken substantial time from the Court and caused trial delays. In its February 1, 2019 Order, the Court cautioned Plaintiffs:

Although withdrawal is being permitted, Plaintiffs are cautioned that further delays will not be tolerated. Plaintiffs have had multiple opportunities to retain new counsel and prepare for trial. The recurring problems between Plaintiffs and their attorneys have prejudiced Defendants, impaired the Court's ability to control its docket, and interfered with the administration of justice. Notably, the issues between Plaintiffs and their attorneys have not been limited to one attorney or one firm, causing the Court to surmise that Plaintiffs are engaging in delay tactics and gamesmanship. The Court will not grant any further continuances or allow further delay tactics. Plaintiffs have until February 14, 2019 to retain new local counsel who is ready, willing, and able to try this case, or serve as local counsel to Mr. Feher (assuming Mr. Feher otherwise qualifies for pro hac vice admission), on July 8, 2019. At the January 31, 2019 hearing, Mr. Feher represented that he will be prepared to try this case on July 8, 2019.
If Plaintiffs have not retained new counsel by February 14, 2019, Plaintiffs Craig B. Stanley, individually, and Millicent Andrade, individually, will be deemed to have opted to proceed pro se. Claims brought by Plaintiffs Atooi Aloha, LLC and the Edmon Keller and Cleavette Mae Stanley Family Trust will be at risk of dismissal, pursuant to Local Rule 83.6.
Plaintiffs are reminded that serious consequences will result if they fail to appear at the February 15, 2019 status conference with local counsel who is ready to proceed to trial on July 8, 2019.

Id. at 4-6 (emphasis added).

         On February 14, 2019, William Shipley filed a Notice of Appearance. ECF No. 397. Plaintiffs Andrade and Stanley appeared with Mr. Shipley for the February 15, 2019 status conference and the Court again warned Plaintiffs that trial was set for July 8, 2019 and would not be continued. Mr. Shipley represented he would indeed be ready for trial on that date.

         The final pretrial conference took place on June 12, 2019 and the hearing on various motions in limine was held on July 3, 2019, at which Mr. Shipley appeared familiar with the case and prepared for trial. There was no indication that Plaintiffs were having difficulties with their attorney, and the Court expected the case to finally proceed to trial as scheduled.

         On July 8, 2019, when jury trial was set to begin, the Court held a status conference with Plaintiffs and Defendants present. Potential jurors awaited jury selection in the courthouse. Mr. Shipley informed the Court that his clients wanted to tell the Court what had happened that morning. Plaintiff Andrade elected to speak and told the Court she believed Mr. Shipley was colluding with defense counsel.[2] Plaintiff Stanley stood up and remarked on, among other things, his past eye surgeries and Hurricane Iwa. Mr. Shipley then advised the Court of his intent to file a motion to withdraw, and, after the Court gave Plaintiffs an opportunity to ...

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