This case, Sanford v. Maid-Rite Corporation, 15-2424, is significant because it allowed lawyers to appeal a decision to deny their motion to withdraw. Even better it reversed the decision of the district court.
The case was a class action filed by current and former franchisees against Maid-Rite. The plaintiff alleged that Maid-Rite made false representations regarding the company’s profitability that induced them into purchasing franchises. In September 2014, Maid-Rite and the other defendants retained Larkin, Hoffman, Daly & Lindgren (“Larkin”) as counsel. The parties signed an engagement letter under which Larkin would bill the defendants on an hourly basis. Larkin “reserved the right to withdraw from this representation for good cause.” Good cause included the failure to make timely payment and the failure to follow Larkin’s advice on a “material matter.”
The defendants paid one invoice and did not pay any remaining invoices. On January 28, 2015, Larkin moved to withdraw. The magistrate denied the motion and the district court affirmed that decision. Larkin then filed an interlocutory appeal to the 8th Circuit, which reversed the decision on the grounds that it was an abuse of discretion.