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Duplechain v. Neustrom

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Lafayette Division

April 15, 2019

STEVEN DUPLECHAIN, III
v.
MICHAEL W. NEUSTROM, ET AL

          BRIAN A. JACKSON, Judge

          RULING AND ORDER

          CAROL B. WHITEHURST, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Pending before the undersigned are three motions filed by the pro se plaintiff, Steven Duplechain, III: (1) Motion for Sanctions Against Law Office of L. Clayton Burgess [Doc. 161];[1] (2) Motion for Sanctions Against William H. Parker, III of Allen & Gooch [Doc. 162]; and (3) Motion for Reconsideration of the undersigned's Ruling on Motion to Compel [Doc. 163].[2] For the following reasons, all of the motions are DENIED.

         1.Motion for Sanctions Against law Office of L. Clayton Burgess [Doc. 161]

         In his motion for sanctions against Mr. Burgess, the plaintiff argues, in essence, that Mr. Burgess did not provide him with a complete copy of his case file upon withdrawing as his counsel in the case. The documentation provided by the plaintiff, however, shows that Mr. Burgess emailed to the plaintiff a file share link, which contained a copy of the plaintiff's case file. After the plaintiff complained that he was having trouble downloading the file, Mr. Burgess's office immediately downloaded the case file to a computer disc, and made that disc available to the plaintiff. The plaintiff now complains that the disc does not contain several “email chains” that the plaintiff already has in his possession, and therefore, that the case file provided by Mr. Burgess is not complete.

         Rule 1.16(d) of the Louisiana Rules of Professional Conduct requires the following:

(d) Upon termination of representation, a lawyer shall take steps to the extent reasonably practicable to protect a client's interests, such as giving reasonable notice to the client, allowing time for employment of other counsel, surrendering papers and property to which the client is entitled and refunding any advance payment of fee or expense that has not been earned or incurred. Upon written request by the client, the lawyer shall promptly release to the client or the client's new lawyer the entire file relating to the matter. The lawyer may retain a copy of the file but shall not condition release over issues relating to the expense of copying the file or for any other reason. The responsibility for the cost of copying shall be determined in an appropriate proceeding.

La St. Bar. Art. 16, R.P.C. Rule 1.16(d) (emphasis added).

         Here, it appears that Mr. Burgess made the plaintiff's file available to the plaintiff in two different ways: first, by emailing a file share link to the file, and second, by burning the contents of the file onto a computer disc at Mr. Burgess's expense and making that disc immediately available to the plaintiff. Under these circumstances, the undersigned finds Mr. Burgess complied with his duties under the Rules of Professional Conduct to provide the plaintiff with a copy of his case file. Regarding the plaintiff's argument that certain emails are missing from the file, it appears the “missing” emails are already in the possession of the plaintiff, and any suggestion that the plaintiff is entitled to sanctions for his former counsel's failure to produce that which the plaintiff already has is misplaced.

         Considering the foregoing, the plaintiff's Motion for Sanctions against Mr. Burgess and his law office is DENIED.

         2. Motion for Reconsideration of the Undersigned's Ruling on Motion to Compel [Doc. 163]

         The plaintiff filed an “Objection” to this Court's Ruling on his Motion to Compel [Doc. 159], which the undersigned granted in part and denied in part on February 15, 2019 [Doc. 159]. The plaintiff brings the motion under Rule 46 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which states:

A formal exception to a ruling or order is unnecessary. When the ruling or order is requested or made, a party need only state the action that it wants the court to take or objects to, along with the grounds for the request or objection. Failing to object does not prejudice a ...

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