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Civil Practice – Lack of Counsel – Failure to Prosecute – Dismissal

After the lift of a stay following an interlocutory appeal, plaintiffs’ counsel withdrew. As one plaintiff was a corporate entity, the court directed plaintiffs to obtain successor counsel. However, plaintiffs failed to obtain new counsel; instead, the individual plaintiff repeatedly expressed his intent to dismiss the action if defendants dismissed their counterclaims. Plaintiffs had no further involvement with the litigation. Because the corporate plaintiff remained unrepresented by counsel and because the individual plaintiffs had failed to obtain counsel or associate themselves with the case, their action is dismissed.

The court dismisses plaintiffs’ amended complaint with prejudice for failure to prosecute.

Plaintiffs filed suit against defendants. Defendants moved to dismiss the complaint, and the court granted the motion in part, dismissing some of plaintiffs’ claims. Plaintiffs appealed to the North Carolina Supreme Court, which affirmed the dismissal of those claims. Following that ruling, the court lifted its stay of case activity; however, plaintiffs’ counsel moved to withdraw for nonpayment of fees, which the court granted. Plaintiffs failed to retain substitute counsel, despite one plaintiff being a corporate entity. Instead, the individual plaintiff repeatedly declared his intent to drop the case provided defendants dismiss their counterclaims. Although defendants informed plaintiffs they had dismissed their counterclaims, plaintiffs failed to participate in any status conferences or attend the order to show cause hearing.

We rule that because plaintiffs had failed to retain substitute counsel for the corporate plaintiff and because the individual plaintiffs had failed to retain counsel for themselves or associate themselves with the case through the court’s e-filing system, or otherwise take any action to prosecute their claims, their action should be dismissed for failure to prosecute.

We note that plaintiffs have repeatedly stated their intention to dismiss the case but have failed to do so or otherwise participate in litigation. We hold that plaintiffs’ conduct has deliberately and unreasonably delayed the matter and prejudiced defendants by precluding a final resolution.

Case dismissed.

Krawiec v. Bogosavac (Lawyers Weekly No. 020-062-18, 8 pp.) (Louis Bledsoe, C.J.) Renner St. John for defendants. 2018 NCBC 85

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