Judge OK's lawyer's bid to withdraw from wrongful termination case

By Jon Campisi | Apr 18, 2013

A judge has granted a lawyer’s motion to withdraw from a retaliatory discharge case the

attorney had filed on behalf of a fired nurse because the plaintiff would no longer communicate with her counsel.

U.S. District Judge Gene E.K. Pratter, sitting in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, granted a motion by lawyer William Wilson to withdraw as plaintiffs’ counsel in the case of Christin McLucas v. Kindred Healthcare Inc. et al.

Wilson filed suit in federal court in Philadelphia in December 2011 on behalf of Christin McLucas, a Chester County resident who claimed she was wrongfully fired from her job of two years as a nurse for Kindred Healthcare, which has locations in both Philadelphia and Delaware County.

In her complaint, McLucas, who was first hired by the defendant in the spring of 2008, claimed that she was harassed by her supervisor, Joseph Lacy, who was also named as a defendant in the suit, and when she complained about the treatment, she was let go from her job.

The harassment from Lacy allegedly came in the form of unwanted sexual advances, the suit alleged.

The plaintiff’s complaint contained counts of sexual harassment and retaliation in violation of the Civil Rights Act and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act.

On June 29 of last year, about six months after the complaint was filed, Wilson, the plaintiff’s attorney, filed a motion to withdraw because, he claimed, McLucas would no longer communicate with him about the case.

In her ruling, Pratter wrote that after holding two hearings on the issue, and giving McLucas “ample time to reestablish communications with Mr. Wilson,” she decided to grant the counselor’s petition.

“Mr. Wilson has provided compelling reasons for his withdrawal, given that Ms. McLucas has all but ignored his attempts to communicate with her for the past 11 months,” Pratter wrote. “Moreover, withdrawal will not unduly harm the administration of justice or delay the resolution of this case. Mr. Wilson is essentially serving as a counsel without a client, and in such a situation counsel cannot make the case proceed more efficiently than it would if Ms. McLucas was represented by another lawyer or was a pro se litigant.”

The judge also wrote that withdrawal will not overly prejudice the plaintiff, “as her silence already has rendered Mr. Wilson ineffective and essentially left him unable to litigate her case.”

At the time Wilson filed his motion to withdraw as counsel, McLucas had not responded to his correspondence for nearly two months, the record shows.

This included four emails, eight telephone calls and a letter, the judge’s memorandum states.

McLucas also failed to respond to a copy of Wilson’s motion to withdraw, which was sent to her one week before it was filed with the court.

McLucas also failed to appear at two hearings the court scheduled regarding the withdraw matter.

Wilson finally connected with McLucas on Dec. 31, of last year, the record shows, at which point the plaintiff expressed an interest in pursuing her case, but the woman once again “disappeared” after the New Year’s Eve meeting with Wilson, and he has been unable to connect with her ever since.

Wilson is a partner at MacElree Harvey LTD. in West Chester, Pa.

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