Bar Associations

Law firm is dropped from app's antitrust suit; Florida Bar fights request for hotline records

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A ticket-fighting company that matches drivers with lawyers has dropped a law firm known as the Ticket Clinic from its antitrust lawsuit.

The plaintiff, TIKD, had targeted the Ticket Clinic for allegedly filing ethics complaints against lawyers who worked with TIKD. The Ticket Clinic defendants and TIKD sought dismissal in a joint stipulation filed last Thursday, and U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke of Miami ordered dismissal the next day.

Lawyers for TIKD and the Ticket Clinic did not immediately reply to the ABA Journal’s questions about whether the suit has been settled, and whether the terms could be revealed.

TIKD has an app in which drivers who receive tickets upload them, pay TIKD a fixed price, receive information through the app about a lawyer to defend the tickets, and get a guarantee from TIKD that the tickets will cost no more money.

Another defendant, the Florida Bar, is accused in the suit of violating antitrust laws by investigating TIKD for the unlicensed practice of law. The suit also claimed the bar had given the false impression that working with TIKD would violate ethics rules.

The bar filed a Sept. 10 memorandum of law fighting a request to produce internal records regarding calls to its ethics hotline by Florida lawyers seeking guidance about working with TIKD. TIKD responded on Sept. 18 that the bar is equating its own confidentiality rules with an evidentiary privilege.

The bar had argued in a December motion to dismiss that it is immune from the antitrust complaint under the state action doctrine because it is an arm of the Florida Supreme Court and an agency of the state, Reuters previously reported. The U.S. Department of Justice filed a statement of interest in the case in March that said the bar does not have absolute immunity because of the Supreme Court’s decision in North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners v. Federal Trade Commission.

The high court decision in the case held that a dental board made up primarily of practicing dentists lacked immunity when it sent cease-and-desist letters to nondentists who performed teeth-whitening services.

The Justice Department’s statement of interest said the Florida Bar can’t claim immunity unless it shows its conduct was in accord with “clearly articulated” state policy and the bar is “actively supervised” by the state, Bloomberg BNA reported in March.

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