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Andrews v. United States

United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Columbia Division

November 6, 2017

William Jones Andrews, Jr., Robert Arrington, Patrick Babb, Timothy Paul Babb and Agnes Babb, Tyler Bahnmuller, Jennifer Baker and Jeffrey Baker, Bryan Bender and Katie Levia, William Britt, II and Erin Dawn Britt, Jeffrey Burden and Ellen Burden, Debra Burriss, Bradford R. Collins, Lewis J. Cromer and Carolyn Cromer, Mary Gill, Stanley Hood and Karen Hood, Jeff Inabinet and Elizabeth Inabinet, Ann D. Kepley, Jason Kirkham and Ashley Kirkham, Kirby Leitner and Jean Leitner, Linda Lynn, Kimberley MacDonald, Larry McKeown, Stephen Marshall, Welda McCullough, Earl Pierce and Cynthia Pierce, David Reid, David Richardson, Mark Rowland and Scott Caton, Teresa Schlosser, Kathy Siokos, Brady Souder and Elizabeth Souder, Preston Spivey and Mary Mazolla Spivey, Alyssa Stigamier, Damita Trapp, Sabrina Todd and Joseph Osbourne, Alex Umbach, William Wannamaker and Laura Wannamaker, Karen Whalen and Jeffrey Whalen, Jeffrey Wilkinson, and James Woods and Cathy Woods, Plaintiffs,
v.
United States of America, Defendant.

          ORDER

         Plaintiffs above-named collectively filed this action seeking money damages from Defendant United States of America for the destruction caused to their homes by flood water released when the Semmes Lake Dam was breached in October 2015. (ECF No. 1 at 6-9.)

         As they litigated this matter, Plaintiffs' counsel-W. Jones Andrews, Jr., John G. Felder, Jr., Chad A. McGowan and Jordan Calloway of McGowan Hood and Felder, LLC-reached the conclusion that the case could not proceed any further because their retained experts were unable to make a connection between the water that flooded Plaintiffs' property and the water that was released from the Semmes Lake Dam on the campus of the Fort Jackson United States Army Installation. (See, e.g., ECF No. 52-1 at 1.) Thereafter, Plaintiffs' counsel determined that they could no longer pursue claims on behalf of any Plaintiffs seeking to continue to litigate this matter. Accordingly, on October 16, 2017, Plaintiffs' counsel filed Motions for Withdrawal of Appearance and to Stay Proceedings as to remaining Plaintiffs, Tyler Bahnmuller, Jeffrey Baker, Jeffrey Burden, Ellen Burden, Lewis J. Cromer, Carolyn Cromer, Damita Trapp, Stephen Marshall, James Woods and Cathy Woods (collectively “Plaintiffs”).[1] (ECF Nos. 70-72, 76- 78.)

         This court's local rules allow a party to object to the withdrawal of counsel. See Local Civ. Rule 83.I.07 (D.S.C.). As a result, the court entered an Order to Show Cause (ECF No. 86) on October 24, 2017, to create an opportunity for Plaintiffs to state any objection to their attorneys' request to withdraw on the record.[2] On November 6, 2017, the court held a show cause hearing regarding the Motions to Withdraw on the record. Plaintiffs' counsel set forth on the record the manner in which Plaintiffs were served with the Order to Show Cause and notice of the show cause hearing. No Plaintiffs appeared at the November 6, 2017 hearing to object to counsel's Motion to Withdraw.

         Upon consideration of counsel's reasons for withdrawal and the lack of objection from Plaintiffs, the court GRANTS the Motions to Withdraw of Plaintiffs' counsel. (ECF Nos. 70- 72, 76-78.) The court advises Plaintiffs Tyler Bahnmuller, Jeffrey Baker, Jeffrey Burden, Ellen Burden, Lewis J. Cromer, Carolyn Cromer, Damita Trapp, Stephen Marshall, James Woods and Cathy Woods that they will have to either substitute counsel or notify the court of their intention to proceed pro se by December 6, 2017. In this regard, the court instructs Plaintiffs that any failure to move the case forward after December 6, 2017, could result in the dismissal of the Complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(b), which provides as follows:

If the plaintiff fails to prosecute or to comply with these rules or a court order, a defendant may move to dismiss the action or any claim against it. Unless the dismissal order states otherwise, a dismissal under this subdivision (b) and any dismissal not under this rule - except one for lack of jurisdiction, improper venue, or failure to join a party under Rule 19 - operates as an adjudication on the merits.

Fed. R Civ. P. 41(b).

         In light of the foregoing, the court DIRECTS the Clerk of Court to mail a copy of this Order to Plaintiffs Bahnmuller, Baker, Burden, Cromer, Trapp, Marshall, Wilkinson and Woods.

         IT IS SO ORDERED.

---------

Notes:

[1] The court observes that Plaintiffs' counsel had also moved to withdraw from representation of Plaintiffs William Britt, II, Erin Dawn Britt, Kirby Leitner, Jean Leitner, Jeffrey Wilkinson, Earl Pierce, Cynthia Pierce, Linda Lynn, Stanley Hood, Karen Hood and Mary Gill. (ECF Nos. 68, 69, 73-75, 79 & 80.) Wilkinson is the only one of these individuals that has not voluntarily dismissed their cases. (See ECF Nos. 83, 88.) However, at the November 6, 2017 show cause hearing, Plaintiffs' counsel informed the court that Wilkinson will substitute the Strom Law Firm, LLC as his counsel. As a result of the foregoing, the court DENIES AS MOOT these Motions to Withdraw. (ECF Nos. 68, 69, 73-75, 79 & 80.)

[2] Additionally, the court required Plaintiffs' counsel to serve a copy of the Order to Show Cause on Plaintiffs, which proof of service was filed on ...


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