Legal Ethics

Former Name Partner at Collapsed Miami Law Firm Gets Three-Year Suspension

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Corrected: The Florida Supreme Court ordered a three-year suspension for Miami lawyer Henry “Hank” Adorno, the one-time name partner at Adorno & Yoss before it disbanded.

The troubled Florida law firm announced its dissolution in March after Adorno resigned from the firm following disclosure of his ethics troubles. His departure came after he was suspended from law practice last year and ordered to show cause why he should not be suspended for up to three years or disbarred for his role in negotiating a $7 million settlement that was later vacated.

The court rejected a referee’s recommendation that Adorno receive a public reprimand, report the Legal Profession Blog and the National Law Journal. The three-year suspension is the most severe sanction short of disbarment, according to the opinion (PDF).

Adorno had negotiated a $7 million settlement that would compensate only seven plaintiffs out of several thousand potential claimants in a lawsuit that challenged Miami’s fire fees. The law firm was to get $2 million of that amount.

“Here, as the referee found, Adorno misused the class-action mechanism to leverage the city into the $7 million settlement for the benefit of a handful of named plaintiffs and his firm,” the court said. “He was proceeding with a class-action, but abandoned the putative class when it was convenient for him to settle the case at a windfall for the named plaintiffs and his firm.”

The court noted Adorno’s reputation for community service and pro bono work, but said the good deeds can’t be used as a credit against severe misconduct.

Corrected at 11:59 a.m. to fix the name of Adorno & Yoss.

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