New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

STEPHENS v. THE CITY UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK, THE CITY UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK AT QUEENS COLLEGE and THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2008-016-058, Claim No. 111602, Motion No. M-75332


Synopsis


Motion to withdraw as claimant’s counsel was granted.

Case Information

UID:
2008-016-058
Claimant(s):
KAREN STEPHENS
Claimant short name:
STEPHENS
Footnote (claimant name) :

Defendant(s):
THE CITY UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK, THE CITY UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK AT QUEENS COLLEGE and THE STATE OF NEW YORK
Footnote (defendant name) :

Third-party claimant(s):

Third-party defendant(s):

Claim number(s):
111602
Motion number(s):
M-75332
Cross-motion number(s):

Judge:
Alan C. Marin
Claimant’s attorney:
Brecher Fishman Pasternack Walsh Tilker & Ziegler, P.C.By: Jordana L. Fishman, Esq.
Defendant’s attorney:
Andrew M. Cuomo, Attorney GeneralNo Appearance
Third-party defendant’s attorney:

Signature date:
October 20, 2008
City:
New York
Comments:

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)


Decision

By order to show cause, the law firm of Brecher, Fishman, Pasternack, Walsh, Tilker & Ziegler, P.C. (“Brecher Fishman”) moves for permission to be relieved as counsel to claimant Karen Stephens. In her claim, Ms. Stephens alleges that on November 13, 2003, she was injured while walking on a sidewalk between “Building No. T3 and the Razran Building” at Queens College. Pursuant to CPLR §321(b)(2), approval of the court is required in order for an attorney to withdraw as counsel for a litigant. To succeed on such a motion, the attorney must show reasonable notice to the client and good and sufficient cause for the withdrawal. 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 lies within the discretion of the court.

Here, with regard to notice, claimant was served with the Order to Show Cause; she did not submit any opposition papers. As to cause, “[i]rreconcilable differences between the attorney and the client with respect to the proper course to be pursued in litigation . . . [and] an established breakdown in communications between attorney and client . . . are viewed as strong grounds for allowing withdrawal . . .” Waid v State of New York, Ct Cl, June 12, 2002 (unreported, Claim No. 104912, Motion No. M-65176, UID #2002-013-025[1], Patti, J.). Having reviewed Brecher Fishman’s submissions, I find that such firm has established that there has been a breakdown of a meaningful attorney/client relationship and that the granting of this motion is justified.

Accordingly, having reviewed the submissions[2], IT IS ORDERED that motion no. M-75332 be granted to the extent that:
1. Brecher Fishman is permitted to withdraw as attorney of record for claimant Karen Stephens, subject to ¶2, below. Within thirty (30) days of the date of filing of this Decision and Order, Brecher Fishman shall serve a file-stamped copy of the Decision and Order on claimant Karen Stephens by certified mail, return receipt requested and by regular mail, and on defendant by regular mail;
2. Brecher Fishman shall file proof of service on claimant Karen Stephens and on defendant with the Clerk of the Court. Upon the Clerk’s receipt of said proofs of service, Brecher Fishman shall be relieved from representation of claimant Karen Stephens;
3. Claimant Karen Stephens shall, within ninety (90) days of service upon her of a file-stamped copy of this Decision and Order, notify the Clerk of the Court and the State of New York in writing of her intention to proceed pro se (without counsel) or file a notice of appearance by a new attorney; and
4. In the event claimant fails to appear pro se or by new counsel within the said ninety (90) day period, the claim herein will be deemed dismissed pursuant to 22 NYCRR 206.15 and no further order of this court will be required.


October 20, 2008
New York, New York

HON. ALAN C. MARIN
Judge of the Court of Claims



  1. [1]This and other decisions of the Court of Claims may be found on the court’s website: www.nyscourtofclaims.state.ny.us.
  2. [2]The Court reviewed claimant’s counsel’s affirmation in support of this motion with exhibit A; and claimant’s counsel’s “Affirmation in Further Support of Order to Show Cause” with exhibit A. No opposition papers were filed.