Legal Ethics

'Spectacular Fall' for Name Partner Adorno, Now Facing Suspension for Class Action Settlement Role

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The Florida Bar had sought a six-month suspension, and then a state-court judge serving as a referee had recommended only a reprimand.

But the Florida Supreme Court unanimously agreed that a name partner of the nation’s largest minority-owned law firm should be suspended for his role in negotiating a $7 million class action settlement that was subsequently nixed.

Henry “Hank” Adorno, the co-founder and president of 250-attorney Adorno & Yoss, now has until Nov. 16 to show cause why he should not be suspended for up to three years or even disbarred, reports the Daily Business Review in an article reprinted in New York Lawyer (reg. req.). Its article relies on coverage by the National Law Journal.

The settlement, which is detailed in an earlier post, was characterized as a “scheme to defraud” by an appeals court. It provided for some $2 million in legal fees to Adorno’s firm while leaving out thousands of affected taxpayers who had sought reimbursement of an unconstitutional Miami fire district fee.

The ethics case is characterized by the legal publication as a “spectacular fall” for Adorno, who had expected a reprimand, according to one of his lawyers, because the supreme court had declined to hear oral arguments.

Another attorney for Adorno, partner Andrew Berman of Young Berman Karf & Gonzalez, said he was stunned by the supreme court’s ruling.

“We went from a six-month suspension to a formal reprimand to three years suspension and possible disbarment,” Berman told the legal publication. “I’m deeply saddened and disappointed by this development. We will be responding to the court’s order to show cause in due course.”

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