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Angol v. In Your Neighborhood Construction, LLC et al.

CASE NO. 5125 CRB-1-06-8



JULY 17, 2007




















The claimant was represented by Jan P. van der Werff, Esq., One Barnard Lane, Suite 202, Bloomfield, CT 06002.

The respondent employer In Your Neighborhood Construction was represented by J. Xavier Pryor, Esq., Brignole, Bush and Lewis, 73 Wadsworth Street, Hartford, CT 06106.

The respondents Church of The Most High God and St. Paul Travelers Insurance were represented by Sean Nourie, Esq., Conway & Stoughton, LLP, 818 Farmington Avenue, West Hartford, CT 06119.

The respondents Church of The Most High God and Hanover Insurance Company were represented by Elycia Solimene, Esq., Gibson & Behman, P.C., 71 Bradley Road, Suite 11, Madison, CT 06443 who did not appear at oral argument.

The Second Injury Fund was represented by Donna H. Summers, Esq., Assistant Attorney General, 55 Elm Street, P.O. Box 120, Hartford, CT 06141-0120.

Oral argument was heard January 19, 2007 on a limited issue, “Respondent’s Counsel’s Motion to Withdraw Appearance” before a Compensation Review Board panel consisting of the Commission Chairman John A. Mastropietro and Commissioners Amado J. Vargas and Scott A. Barton.

Ruling Re: Respondent’s Counsel’s Motion to Withdraw Appearance

JOHN A. MASTROPIETRO, CHAIRMAN. The instant matter was heard by the Compensation Review Board at oral argument held January 19, 2007. The matter was calendared for oral argument for the purpose, inter alia, of determining whether to grant a Motion filed October 3, 2006 by counsel for the employer-respondent In Your Neighborhood Construction seeking to withdraw as counsel for the appellant.

The facts of the case are as follows. The Commissioner acting for the First District rendered a Finding and Award for the claimant on August 17, 2006. As there was a finding that the claimant’s employer was not insured the Second Injury Fund was obligated under § 31-355 C.G.S. to compensate the claimant were the award not to be paid. Both the Second Injury Fund and the employer-respondent had counsel file Petitions for Review from the decision. Following the filing of the Petition for Review counsel for the employer-respondent filed a motion to withdraw his appearance in this matter.1

In Cordi-Allen v. Hartford, 4422 CRB-1-01-7 (January 30, 2002), we outlined the legal requirements which must be fulfilled in order to approve the withdrawal of representation by counsel.

“Under Rule 1.16 of the Rules of Professional Conduct, there are certain circumstances under which a lawyer may withdraw from representing a client. The rules provide in pertinent part:

[A] lawyer may withdraw from representing a client if withdrawal can be accomplished without material adverse effect on the interests of the client, or if:
(1) The client persists in a course of action involving the lawyer’s services that the lawyer reasonably believes is criminal or fraudulent;
(2) The client has used the lawyer’s services to perpetrate a crime or fraud;
(3) The client insists upon pursuing an objective that the lawyer considers repugnant or imprudent;
(4) The client fails substantially to fulfill an obligation to the lawyer regarding the lawyer’s services and has been given reasonable warning that the lawyer will withdraw unless the obligation is fulfilled;
(5) The representation will result in an unreasonable financial burden on the lawyer or has been rendered unreasonably difficult by the client; or
(6) Other good cause for withdrawal exists. (emphasis ours)”

In his motion, counsel states that his client had represented that payment would be tendered for legal services rendered on his behalf, but has failed to tender any money for representation on an appeal. At oral argument counsel also stated that communications between himself and his client had become virtually nonexistent. Therefore, it appears the requisite grounds exist to permit counsel to withdraw his representation.

Having established a substantive basis to approve a withdrawal, we must ascertain if the procedural requirements have been met. Under Practice Book Sec. 3-10,

“[n]o motion for withdrawal of appearance shall be granted unless good cause is shown and until the judicial authority is satisfied that reasonable notice has been given to other attorneys of record and that the party represented by the attorney was served with the motion and the notice required by this section or that attorney has made reasonable efforts to serve such party.”

The record before this board demonstrates that counsel for the respondent did send his client a copy of this motion via certified mail on October 3, 2006, and did copy his client on his memorandum of law. This board also sent the employer-respondent via regular mail a hearing notice of the date and time of the hearing on this motion. The respondent did not file a written objection to this motion or appear at oral argument in opposition to this motion. Therefore, we conclude the procedural requirements of Section 3-10 of the Practice Book have been met. We also conclude that the respondent has not objected to the granting of this motion.

It is a matter of judicial discretion whether to approve the withdrawal of counsel, Tolman v. Banach, 82 Conn. App. 263, 265 (2004); Swerdloff v. Rubenstein, 81 Conn. App. 552, 553-554 (2004). As the procedural requirements have been met, we believe it is within our discretion to grant counsel’s motion to withdraw his appearance, and herein approve the Motion to Withdraw Appearance.

Commissioners Amado J. Vargas and Scott A. Barton concur in this opinion.

1 During the pendency of the motion, counsel for the employer-respondent filed Reasons for Appeal, which have also been filed by counsel for the Second Injury Fund. BACK TO TEXT

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State of Connecticut Workers' Compensation Commission, Stephen M. Morelli, Chairman
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