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Defense Attorneys Seek Removal of Plaintiff's Attorneys in California and New Jersey Wage Class Action

published January 23, 2023

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Defense Attorneys Seek Removal of Plaintiff's Attorneys in California and New Jersey Wage Class Action

Defense Attorneys Accuse Plaintiff's Attorneys of Abusing Pro Hac Vice Status in California.

Law360 (January 20, 2023, 4:22 PM EST) -- The defense attorneys in a wage class action in California and New Jersey want the plaintiffs' attorneys removed from the suit, accusing them of systematically abusing pro hac vice status to build a wage-and-hour practice in California despite being based in Florida.

On Thursday, attorneys from Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP harshly criticized their opponents from Shavitz Law Group for “violations of court rules” in a motion submitted to the California federal court.

Motion Submitted to California Federal Court Alleges "Violations of Court Rules" by Shavitz Law Group in Stryker Overtime Case.

In an extraordinary instance, a pattern of violations can develop which is so consistent and pervasive that trustworthiness should no longer be assumed. Sadly, the defendant submits that this situation accurately portrays the behavior of the plaintiff's counsel in this case.

The lawsuit was initiated by the employees of Stryker, who assert that they were not compensated at a proper overtime rate while in training. This has arisen as a class action against the medical device company.

The lawsuit is composed of two distinct groups, one from California and the other from New Jersey. Notably, it also claims that violative actions were taken under the California Labor Code Private Attorneys General Act.

The defense claimed Shavitz Law Group, or SLG, abuses California's pro hac vice rules in multiple ways.

SLG has been accused of illegally practicing law in California by sending letters to the Labor and Workforce Development Agency before their attorneys were granted pro hac vice status. According to Hunton Andrews, this is a form of legally representing clients without receiving formal permission from the courts, which constitutes an illegal activity.

In the Stryker case, Gregg Shavitz sent his initial letter to the Labor and Workforce Development Agency in early 2022; however, he didn't apply for pro hac vice status until August of that year. The defendants highlighted this fact as well as noting that SLG had dispatched at least fifteen other letters since July 2019.

Unhappily, this data clearly displays a regular use of practicing law without authorization in California and demonstrates that the SLG attorneys have been very successful in their PAGA practice despite not being registered members of the bar. This strong indication is further emphasized throughout our motion.

Hunton Andrews submitted that SLG's numerous requests for pro hac vice status were an abuse of a system meant to be utilized by "onetime or occasional practitioners," as stated in the U.S. Supreme Court ruling. The defense then revealed that, over the past five years, lawyers from SLG had taken part in 27 cases within California and applied for pro hac vice status 16 times during those particular proceedings.

California's statutes do not offer pro hac vice status to attorneys who "habitually participate in the business, professional or any other similar activities within the state," and that should be applicable in this case with SLG's lawyers, according to the defendants.

Unfortunately, there was no response available from either side of the dispute when asked for comment on Friday.

On January 10th, Judge George Wu of the U.S. District Court ruled to dismiss a portion of the lawsuit concerning accusations made in New Jersey but allowed for the California section to proceed forward, with plaintiffs Paolo Meireles from Shavitz Law Group PA and Lin Chan, Rachel Geman and Christopher Coleman represented by Liefe Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein LLP.

Michele Beilke and Kirk Hornbeck of Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP stand in defense of the defendants, Jonathan Jerozal et al., in their case against Stryker Corp. before the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California (Case No.: 2:22-CV-4094).

REFERENCE:
Defense Wants 'Rule-Breaking' Plaintiffs' Attys Off Wage Case
Defense Wants 'Rule-Breaking' Plaintiffs' Attys Off Wage Case - Law360
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