Legal Ethics

Indian tribe's malpractice case against former lawyers thrown out

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A Florida judge has thrown out a malpractice case brought by the Miccosukee Indian tribe alleging more than $10 million in billing fraud by two prominent Miami lawyers, the Miami Herald reports.

Miami-Dade Circuit Judge John Thornton, in a ruling issued Sunday, said the matter was an intra-tribal dispute that did not belong in the court, but at the same time ruled that lawyers Guy Lewis and Michael Tein, both former prosecutors, did not commit fraud or malpractice. The lawyers billed more than $10 million while representing both the tribe itself and individual members in tax matters and other cases.

The newspaper reported that the lawyers’ practice had shrunk dramatically during this and other litigation concerning the tribe.

Last April, a different judge ordered Lewis and Tien to pay $50,000 to an attorney who represented two individual tribe members in litigation over a fatal car crash and sought sanctions by alleging Lewis’ and Tien’s bills had been paid by the tribe.

In that case, Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Donald Dresnick said their high fees in the wrongful death case “made my eyes spin in their sockets.”

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