This matter comes before the Court pursuant to Defendant Shared Marketing Services, Inc.'s Request for Extension Regarding New Counsel (Doc. # 122), which was filed without the assistance of counsel on December 30, 2011. Plaintiff Ecomsystems, Inc. filed a Response on January 3, 2012. (Doc. # 121). For the reasons that follows, the Court strikes and otherwise denies the pro se request for an extension of time filed by Shared Marketing, a corporate Defendant. However, the Court will allow Shared Marketing until and including January 20, 2012, in which to hire substitute counsel, failing which this Court will initiate default proceedings by striking Shared Marketing's pleadings.
Ecomsystems sues Shared Marketing and Ace Hardware for patent infringement. Shared Marketing was represented by counsel until November 18, 2011, when this Court granted the unopposed motion to withdraw filed by Shared Marketing's former counsel. (Doc. # 100). The Court's Order warned that "as a corporation, Defendant Shared Marketing Services, Inc. must be represented by an attorney admitted to practice before this Court." Id. at 2. The Court ruled that "Shared Marketing Services, Inc. shall therefore retain new counsel who shall file a notice of appearance in this action on or before December 30, 2011. Failure to do so may result in a default being entered against Defendant Shared Marketing Services, Inc." Id.
On December 30, 2011, Shared Marketing filed an unsigned letter requesting that the Court grant an additional 30 days for it to retain counsel based upon "unforseen financial difficulties that has [sic] made it impossible for this corporation to provide enough monies for a retainer to engage an a [sic] attorney to represent Shared Marketing Services, Inc." (Doc. # 122).
As correctly noted by Ecomsystems, the request for an extension of time to hire counsel offers no evidence of Shared Marketing's financial difficulties, provides no information concerning what efforts, if any, Shared Marketing has made to retain counsel, and lacks any indication that Shared Marketing will successfully retain counsel. (Doc. # 121).
Shared Marketing was given ample opportunity to retain new counsel, but it failed to do so. A long line of cases maintain that corporations may not appear pro se in this court. See Palazzo v. Gulf Oil Corp., 764 F.2d 1381, 1385 (11th Cir. 1985)("The rule is well established that a corporation is an artificial entity that can act only through agents, cannot appear pro se, and must be represented by counsel."); Textron Fin. Corp. v. RV Having Fun Yet, Inc., No. 3:09-cv-2-J-34TEM, 2010 WL 1038503, at *6 (M.D. Fla. Mar. 19, 2010)("a corporation's financial constraints do not excuse the requirement that it have legal representation in Court proceedings."); United States v. Hagerman, 545 F.3d 579, 581-82 (7th Cir. 2008)("Pro se litigation is a burden on the judiciary, and the burden is not to be borne when the litigant has chosen to do business in entity form. He must take the burdens with the benefits.")(internal citations omitted).
Accordingly, the Court denies Shared Marketing's request for an extension to obtain new counsel; however, in the interests of fairness, the Court will allow Shared Marketing until and including January 20, 2012, to hire an attorney. Absent a notice of appearance of counsel filed on behalf of Shared Marketing by January 20, 2012, this Court will initiate the default process by striking Shared Marketing's pleadings.
Thereafter, Shared Marketing will be poised for the entry of a default judgment against it.
Accordingly, it is ORDERED, ADJUDGED, and DECREED:
(1) Defendant Shared Marketing Services, Inc.'s Request for Extension Regarding New Counsel (Doc. # 122) is STRICKEN and otherwise DENIED.
(2) Shared Marketing has until and including January 20, 2012, to retain new counsel. Absent a notice of appearance of counsel filed on behalf of Shared Marketing by January 20, 2012, this Court will initiate the default process by striking Shared Marketing's pleadings. Thereafter, Shared Marketing will be poised for the entry of a default judgment against it.
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