Legal Ethics

Florida Bar says former president can't represent startup in suit claiming anti-competitive conduct

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Florida Bar

The Florida Bar argues that a former bar president should be disqualified from representing a Florida startup in its antitrust suit against the bar.

The bar filed a disqualification motion Dec. 1 along with a motion seeking dismissal of the suit, the Daily Business Review (sub. req.) reports.

TIKD Services, a ticket-fighting startup that matches drivers with lawyers, claims in its suit that the Florida Bar and a competitor law firm launched “a coordinated attack” to drive it out of business. TIKD claims the bar launched an investigation “with no end in sight” into whether TIKD was engaged in the unauthorized practice of law, and issued an informal opinion giving the false impression that working with the startup would violate ethics rules.

The bar argues that former president Ramon Abadin, a partner with the disbanding law firm Sedgwick, received attorney-client work-product communications as president-elect that was relevant to the suit filed by TIKD.

According to the bar, Abadin received a confidential legal evaluation of the Florida Bar’s structure after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a dental regulatory board did not have immunity in an antitrust action challenging its crackdown on teeth-whitening by nondentists. He was also on the Florida Bar’s board of governors when it signed an amicus brief in in the Supreme Court case.

The bar argues in a second motion that is immune from suit because it is an arm of the Florida Supreme Court authorized to conduct investigations of the unlicensed practice of law. In any event, the motion says, TIKD has failed to state a claim under the antitrust laws.

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