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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:Manzoor Memon, an officer of Memon Corp., filed a pro se complaint in state court against Allied Domecq QSR related to the Memon Corp.’s operation of a Baskin-Robbins ice cream franchise agreement. Baskin-Robbins was eventually substituted as the defendant. Though Memon was not an attorney, he brought suit on behalf of himself, his brother, his sister-in-law and the corporation. The suit was removed to federal court, then Baskin-Robbins moved to dismiss. Baskin-Robbins alleged that Memon did not have standing because he was not a party to the franchise agreement; furthermore, the remaining plaintiffs and the corporations were improperly represented by a non-lawyer, Memon. Memon did not file a response to this motion, but instead asked the district court to dismiss without prejudice. He said he could not afford a lawyer, and asked the judge if he could get an attorney. The judge replied, “I can’t practice law so I can’t advise you on that.” Without ordering Memon Corp. to get a lawyer, and without admonishing the plaintiffs that Memon Corp. could not proceed without an attorney, the district court granted Baskin-Robbins’ motion to dismiss with prejudice. Soon after dismissal, Memon Corp. hired an attorney and filed a motion for new trial, or, alternatively, a motion for relief from final judgment under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b). The district court denied the motion. HOLDING:Reversed and remanded. Although 28 U.S.C. 1654 authorizes individuals to appear in federal courts pro se, the statute does not address corporations. This lack of specific authorization in 1654 has been interpreted as barring corporations from appearing in federal court without an attorney. The court, however, agrees with Memon Corp., that the district court erred in dismissing the claim with prejudice, as such a dismissal imposes an extreme sanction that deprives a litigant of the opportunity to pursue his claim. The district court never admonished Memon Corp. that it was required to hire an attorney � nor did the district court order it to do so � before dismissing the case with prejudice. The court says it does not see how Memon Corp.’s failure to respond to Baskin-Robbins’ motion to dismiss would justify dismissal with prejudice in this instance. There is serious doubt that Memon himself knew that he either needed to hire a lawyer or face a dismissal with prejudice. OPINION:Per curiam.

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