United States District Court, S.D. New York
November 14, 2005.
SY BEST, Plaintiff,
THE CITY OF NEW YORK, et al., Defendants.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: BARBARA JONES, District Judge
OPINION AND ORDER
This is an action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff Sy Best
alleges that he sustained personal injuries on June 29, 2003,
while incarcerated at Riker's Island Correctional Facility. The
complaint was filed on December 22, 2004, and the matter was
referred to the undersigned for general pretrial matters on
January 7, 2005. On September 6, 2005, Best's attorney, Steven R.
Krawitz, filed a motion to withdraw as counsel, and to be removed
as attorney of record from the docket. Defendants take no
position on Krawitz's motion. Krawitz's motion is GRANTED.
By letter dated May 9, 2005, defendants informed the Court that
a settlement had been reached by the parties, which disposed of
the action in its entirety. However, on June 29, 2005, Best
informed the Court that he did not want to settle for the amount
allegedly agreed upon. Best also stated that his lawyer did not
want to represent him any more. On September 6, 2005, Krawitz
moved to be relieved as counsel. He asserts that Best "refused
the offer and notified the court directly in writing that he did
not wish to accept the settlement and would agree to discharge
the law firm as his counsel." Krawitz's Affidavit in Support of
Motion to Withdraw ("Krawitz's Aff.") at 2. Krawitz maintains that "the law firm has
taken all pertinent and reasonable steps to negotiate . . . this
matter based upon the perceived liability and damages sustained
by [Best]." Id. According to Krawitz, Best's settlement
expectations are unrealistic to resolve this case. He alleges
that based on irreconcilable differences he can no longer
Pursuant to Local Civil Rule 1.4, an attorney "may not withdraw
from a case without leave of the court granted by order." Such an
order may be granted "only upon a showing by affidavit or
otherwise of satisfactory reasons for withdrawal or displacement
and the posture of the case, including its position, if any, on
the calendar." Id. Krawitz's motion to withdraw is also
governed by New York law. See Cook v. Moran Atlantic Towing
Corp., 79 F.R.D. 392, 394 (S.D.N.Y. 1978). Krawitz seeks to
withdraw because Best refused to accept a settlement offer.
Krawitz's Aff. at 2. Under New York law, a client's refusal to
accept a settlement offer is not good and sufficient cause for
withdrawal. See Suffolk Roadways, Inc. v. Minuse,
287 N.Y.S.2d 965 (1968). The client controls the decision as to
whether a settlement offer is to be accepted. See Id. at 969.
The attorney is bound by the client's decision even if it is not
in accordance with his advice. Id. Krawitz does not allege that
effective representation is not reasonably possible or
unreasonably difficult. See Cosgrove v. Federal Home Loan
Bank, 1995 WL 600565 (S.D.N.Y. Oct. 12, 1995).
Notwithstanding the lack of good and sufficient cause to
withdraw, the Court may grant Krawitz's motion for withdrawal.
See Marrero v. Christiano, 575 F. Supp. 837 (S.D.N.Y 1983).
Krawitz indicated he is not interested in litigating this case.
In light of Krawitz's position, the Court finds that his
continued representation is not in plaintiff's best interest. Best informed the Court that he is currently seeking to retain a
new lawyer who wishes to represent him in his best interest.
Krawitz's motion to be relieved as counsel is GRANTED.
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