New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

ORTIZ v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2003-016-017, Claim No. 100130, Motion No. M-66283


Motion to withdraw as counsel was granted.

Case Information

Claimant short name:
Footnote (claimant name) :

Footnote (defendant name) :

Third-party claimant(s):

Third-party defendant(s):

Claim number(s):
Motion number(s):
Cross-motion number(s):

Alan C. Marin
Claimant's attorney:
Ronemus & VilenskyBy: Michael B. Ronemus, Esq.
Defendant's attorney:
No Appearance
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
March 3, 2003
New York

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)


This is the motion of the law firm of Ronemus & Vilensky to withdraw as claimant's counsel. In the underlying claim, it is alleged that claimant was wrongfully arrested and charged with a parole violation. Counsel submits that this motion was sent by certified mail, return receipt requested to both claimant and defendant. See the affidavit of service of Kathy Chiodi submitted with counsel's moving papers. Neither Mr. Ortiz nor defendant responded to the motion.

There must be a showing of good cause and reasonable notice before an attorney will be permitted to terminate the attorney-client relationship. See, e.g., J. M. Heinike Associates, Inc. v Liberty Nat. Bank, 142 AD2d 929, 530 NYS2d 355 (4th Dept 1988). What constitutes good cause is not an objective determination, but rather lies within the sound discretion of the trial court. See, e.g., People v Salquerro, 107 Misc 2d 155, 433 NYS2d 711 (N.Y. Sup. 1980).

Here, counsel asserts that claimant had been calling his lawyers regularly, but stopped doing so some time after the conference held on February 20, 2002. Counsel further states that claimant was sent notification advising of his deposition date – scheduled for June 14, 2002 – but failed to respond. Counsel also states that the telephone numbers Ronemus & Vilensky had for claimant are no longer in service. Finally, counsel states that there are now irreconcilable differences that have arisen between the firm and claimant and that there has been a "complete breakdown of the attorney-client relationship." See the January 7, 2003 affirmation of Michael B. Ronemus. In view of the foregoing, I find that counsel has made a showing of good cause to be relieved.

Accordingly, having reviewed the parties' submissions[1], IT IS ORDERED that:
  1. Permission to withdraw as attorney of record is hereby granted to Ronemus & Vilensky, subject to the requirements of ¶2 hereof.
  2. Within ten (10) days of the filing of this Decision and Order, Ronemus & Vilensky shall serve upon claimant a file-stamped copy of this Decision and Order by certified mail, return receipt requested and by regular mail and shall file an affidavit of such service, with the return receipt attached, with the Clerk of the Court. Upon the Clerk's receipt of such affidavit with return receipt, counsel shall be relieved from the representation of claimant; and
  3. No further proceedings shall take place with respect to this claim until ninety (90) days after the filing of this Decision and Order, so as to permit claimant to retain new counsel should he choose to do so. Claimant shall, within 90 days of the filing of this Decision & Order, notify the Clerk of the Court (New York State Court of Claims, Box 7344, Capitol Station, Albany, NY 12224) and the State of New York (Bridget E. Farrell, AAG, New York State Department of Law, 120 Broadway, New York, NY 10271) in writing of his intention to proceed without counsel (pro se), or file a notice of appearance by a new attorney. Should new counsel make an appearance on behalf of claimant, or should claimant choose to appear pro se, Ronemus & Vilensky shall be notified within thirty (30) days by such counsel or claimant, and Ronemus & Vilensky shall also be notified by such counsel or claimant within thirty (30) days of any disposition of this matter; and
  4. If claimant fails to so notify the Clerk of the Court or appear by new counsel within such 90-day period, the claim herein will be deemed dismissed (22 NYCRR 206.15), and no further order of this Court will be required.
  5. With respect to counsel's request for a charging lien, such is denied without prejudice to whatever rights to compensation counsel may have pursuant to §475 of the Judiciary Law or otherwise.

March 3, 2003
New York, New York

Judge of the Court of Claims

  1. [1]The following were reviewed: Ronemus & Vilensky's notice of motion with affirmation in support.