United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin
William E. Duffin U.S. Magistrate Judge.
J & J Sports Productions, Inc. filed the present action
on March 26, 2018. (ECF No. 1.) The case was re-assigned to
this court on September 17, 2019. Only Defendant McFinagin
LLC has filed a consent form. (ECF No. 27.)
March 28, 2019, Attorney Peter Balistreri filed a Disclosure
Statement indicating that he was the counsel of record and
that “Dubin & Balistreri, Ltd. will be appearing
for the Plaintiff.” (ECF No. 6.) On October 15, 2019,
Attorney Carl Dubin wrote the court that Attorney Peter
Balistreri was in hospice care, and “[Attorney
Balistreri] will not be involved in any proceeding moving
forward.” (ECF No. 28.)
October 29, 2019, Attorney Dubin filed a motion to withdraw
Attorney Balistreri and Dubin & Balistreri, Ltd. as
counsel for J & J Sports Productions. (ECF No. 31.)
Attorney Dubin indicated that Attorney Balistreri passed away
on October 26, 2019. (Id.) Attorney Dubin further
stated, “[t]hat with the demise of Balistreri, [he]
alone is handling the practice of Dubin & Balistreri,
Ltd. and has no time to learn and/or prepare to learn about J
& J, their operation/facts and the piracy law necessary
to properly represent J & J.” (ECF No. 33, ¶
Dubin also stated in his affidavit that Attorney Balistreri
and Thomas P.
lead counsel for J & J Sports Productions, had a Legal
Services Agreement, which stated:
11. WITHDRAWAL OF ATTORNEY. Local counsel may
withdraw at any time as permitted under the Rules of
Professional Conduct of the State Bar of Wisconsin.…
(Id., ¶ 8 (emphasis in original).) Attorney
Dubin stated that, prior to Attorney Balistreri's death,
he informed Attorney Riley of Balistreri's “pending
demise” and that he would be filing a motion to
withdraw, “to which Riley objected.”
(Id., ¶ 11.)
J Sports Productions is a corporation. It is well-established
that “[a] corporation is not permitted to litigate in a
federal court unless it is represented by a lawyer licensed
to practice in that court.” United States v.
Hagerman, 545 F.3d 579, 581 (7th Cir. 2008) (citing
Rowland v. California Men's Colony, 506 U.S.
194, 202 (1993); Scandia Down Corp. v. Euroquilt,
Inc., 772 F.2d 1423, 1427 (7th Cir. 1985)); see also
In re IFC Credit Corp., 663 F.3d 315, 318 (7th Cir.
2011) (citing Rowland, 506 U.S. at 201-02;
Hagerman, 545 F.3d at 581; Scandia Down
Corp., 772 F.2d at 1427; Nixon, Ellison & Co. v.
Sw. Ins. Co., 47 Ill. 444 (1868); Berg v.
Mid-America Indus. Inc., 668 N.E.2d 699, 704
(Ill.App.Ct. 1997)) (“Corporations unlike human beings
are not permitted to litigate pro se.”). This rule
applies even if the corporation is owned by only a few
closely related individuals or by a single person who seeks
to appear on behalf of the corporation. See, e.g.,
In re AT&T Fiber Optic Cable Installation
Litig., 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 132286, 9-10 (S.D. Ind.
Dec. 13, 2010). “[T]he right to conduct business in a
form that confers privileges, such as the limited personal
liability of the owners for tort or contract claims against
the business, carries with it obligations one of which is to
hire a lawyer if you want to sue or defend on behalf of the
entity.” Hagerman, 545 F.3d at 581-82.
“[C]orporations must appear by counsel or not at
all.” Scandia Down Corp., 772 F.2d at 1427
(citing Strong Delivery Ministry Ass'n v. Bd. of
Appeals, 543 F.2d 32, 33-34 (7th Cir. 1976)).
court has given J & J Sports Productions time to retain
new counsel and for new counsel to file a notice of
appearance on behalf of J & J Sports Productions.
However, successor counsel has not appeared. Therefore, the
court recommends that this action be dismissed for failure to
prosecute. J & J Sports Productions will have fourteen
days to object.
Clerk shall send a copy of this order to J & J Sports
Productions's principal place of business, as identified
in the complaint (ECF No. 1) as:
2380 South Bascom Avenue Suite 200 Campbell, California 95008
Clerk shall also send a copy of this order to Attorney Thomas
Riley, who Attorney Dubin indicated was lead counsel for J
& J Sports Productions, at the address provided by
Attorney Dubin on his motion to withdraw (ECF No. 31):
Attorney Thomas P. Riley Law office of Thomas P. Riley First
Library Square 1114 Fremont Avenue South ...