Attorney for webcam spying litigant files motion to withdraw as counsel

Jon Campisi Dec. 16, 2011, 12:05pm

The attorney for a Lower Merion high school graduate who is suing her former district amid allegations that she was spied on by a take-home laptop computer’s webcam has filed a motion to be replaced as counsel.

Lawyer Mary Elizabeth Bogan, who had filed the federal civil rights complaint a week ago on behalf of Paige Robbins, filed her motion to withdraw as counsel on Tuesday, according to online court filings at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

It was not yet clear whether U.S. District Judge John R. Padova had granted the attorney’s motion.

The motion, which states that the movant has “diligently served as plaintiff’s counsel throughout these proceedings” thus far, states that Bogan wishes to withdraw from the case because she and her client have “irreconcilable conflict(s).”

No specifics are offered in terms of what the supposed differences are; the motion said Bogan is “prepared to discuss with the court … the nature and substance of the basis that necessitated the submission of the within motion.”

“Movant has taken the reasonable steps to avoid foreseeable prejudice to the rights of Plaintiff, including, but not limited to, advising the client of the within filing,” the motion reads.

A hearing on the motion has been scheduled for Jan. 11 at 10 a.m., according to a notice to Bogan from Padova’s law clerk that was included in the court docket.

Bogan, who runs her own law practice out of Center City, Philadelphia, had filed the complaint on behalf of Robbins back on Dec. 7.

The civil claim alleged that inappropriate images of the now-19-year-old were taken during her sophomore and junior years at Harriton High School.

The lawsuit followed a similar claim by Robbins’ brother, Blake Robbins, who sued the Lower Merion School District over the same allegations last year.

Blake Robbins ended up getting a $175,000 settlement.

The basis for Paige Robbins’ lawsuit was the discovery of comments made by assistant high school principal Lynn Matsko during an April 2010 deposition in connection with Blake Robbins’ lawsuit.

During the taped deposition, Matsko said it was possible that naked pictures were taken of Paige Robbins by the school district-issued laptop computer the girl had taken home with her.

The district, which has since deactivated the webcam feature on the students’ laptops as per court order, responded angrily to the Paige Robbins complaint, saying the move was was clearly a “money-grab and a complete waste of tax dollars.”

School district spokesman Doug Young had earlier said that federal authorities investigating the prior Robbins complaint “determined that no one ever saw a compromising image of Ms. Robbins or anyone else.”

In a statement issued after the suit was filed, Young also questioned Paige Robbins’ motives in taking legal action against the school district two years after the alleged incidents occurred.

“It appears Ms. Robbins simply waited to turn 18 so she could attempt to obtain a payout of her own from LMSD taxpayers,” the statement had read. “The District will vigorously defend its position and the taxpayers of this community.”

On Thursday, Young said the district would not be commenting on the motion to withdraw as counsel filed earlier in the week by Bogan, Paige Robbins’ attorney.

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