Monthly Archives: June 2012

U.S. Fifth Circuit opinion affirms sanctions against Florida law firm for inadvertent dissemination of confidential discovery documents

Hello and welcome to this Ethics Alert blog which will discuss the recent U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal opinion affirming monetary sanctions against a Florida law firm which inadvertently disseminated confidential discovery documents of Cooper Tire & Rubber Company to lawyers who were attending a conference on discovery related to Cooper.  The opinion is Smith & Fuller, P.A.; Hugh N. Smith v. Cooper Tire & Rubber Company, U.S. Fifth Circuit Case No. 11-20557 (June 21, 2012) and the link is here:  http://www.ca5.uscourts.gov/opinions/pub/11/11-20557-CV0.wpd.pdf.

According to the opinion, Hugh N. Smith and Smith & Fuller, P.A. represented the Trenado family in a federal products liability lawsuit against Cooper in the U.S. Southern District of Texas.  Prior to trial, the district court judge issued an Amended Protective Order of Confidentiality protecting Cooper’s trade secrets and confidential information which was to be produced during discovery. The protective order limited access of protected information to “authorized persons, solely in the performance of their duties in connection with the trial preparation of this case.”

Smith and the law firm inadvertently disseminated Cooper’s trade secrets and confidential information to a number of lawyers during a conference about obtaining discovery from Cooper after an individual from Smith’s firm apparently mistakenly copied the information onto compact discs which were distributed to the lawyers attending the conference. Cooper discovered the violation when its counsel in Trenado received the documents from a plaintiff’s attorney in an unrelated lawsuit against Cooper.  Many of the documents were Bates stamped and Smith and the law firm also did not dispute that they violated the protective order.

The Fifth Circuit opinion affirmed the judge’s sanction of $29,667.71 against the lawyer and the law firm for fees and costs incurred by Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. in pursuing the matter.  The district court judge had also ordered Smith and the firm to take immediate action to enforce the protective order and to correct the violation.  The judge ultimately held that the firm did not willfully violate the protective order but that sanctions should still be imposed pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 37(b), which gives the court authority to impose attorney sanctions for failure to obey discovery orders. The judge also noted that Smith had previously violated a similar protective order in another case.

The law firm argued that the amount of fees imposed was unreasonable since it, inter alia, included fees of Cooper’s lead counsel and national discovery counsel; however, the opinion stated that “our review of the record shows no abuse of discretion by the district court…(t)his is particularly true since Cooper did not learn of the violation until the eve of trial in the underlying action when its lead counsel was engaged in trial preparation, thereby causing a need for additional involvement by Cooper’s national discovery counsel.”  The opinion also held that, in addition to a broad range of sanctions, including contempt, Rule 37(b) authorizes the court to impose a concurrent sanction of reasonable expenses, including attorney’s fees, which were caused by the failure to obey a protective order.

Bottom line:  Although the disclosure of the protected confidential documents to numerous lawyers was inadvertent, the lawyer and law firm were sanctioned by the federal court for violating the discovery order.  By that time; however, the cat was out of the bag…

Be careful out there!

As always, if you have any questions about this Ethics Alert or need assistance, analysis, and guidance regarding these or any other ethics, risk management, or other issues, please do not hesitate to contact me.

THE LAW OFFICE OF JOSEPH A. CORSMEIER, P.A.

PROVIDES ETHICS ADVICE AND EXPERT OPINIONS TO LAWYERS AND LAW FIRMS

DEFENDS LAWYERS IN BAR MISSION AND DISCIPLINE CASES

(AND MUCH MORE!)

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New York City Ethics Opinion warns lawyers about potential ethics issues related to unintentional juror contact while conducting online social media research during trial

Hello and welcome to this Ethics Alert blog which will discuss the recent New York City Bar Association Ethics Opinion which warns lawyers about online contact with jurors (or the venire) while conducting research using social media.  The opinion is NYCB Formal Opinion 2012-2, Jury Research and Social Media, Op. 2012-1 and the link is here: 2012 NYC Bar Social Media Ethics Opinion.

According to the opinion, “as the internet and social media have changed the ways in which we all communicate, conducting juror research while complying with the rule prohibiting juror communication has become more complicated.”  The opinion states that, although lawyers are permitted to research potential and sitting jurors on Facebook and other social media sites, communications with jurors should be avoided and it is not always easy to anticipate whether a visit to a website will result in a communication.

The opinion states that it would be unethical for lawyers or the lawyer’s representatives to make juror friend requests and that improper communications may occur not only through “friend” requests, but also when the lawyer is aware that his or her review of the juror’s comments, pages or posts will be disclosed to the juror.  In addition, a violation might occur even if the communication to the juror is inadvertent or unintended.

Although the opinion commented that the relevant NY Bar Rule (Rule 3.5 which is substantially similar to Florida Bar Rule 4-3.5) appears to prohibit even unintentional juror communication, it did not take a position on whether such an inadvertent communication would actually be a violation of the rule.  According to the opinion, “(i)n the social media context, due to the nature of the services, unintentional communications with a member of the jury venire or the jury pose a particular risk….(f)or example, if an attorney views a juror’s social media page and the juror receives an automated message from the social media service that a potential contact has viewed her profile-even if the attorney has not requested the sending of that message or is entirely unaware of it-the attorney has arguably ‘communicated’ with the juror.”

The opinion gives the following advice, “(i)t is incumbent upon the attorney to understand the functionality of any social media service (that the attorney) intends to use for juror research.”  Further, “(i)f an attorney cannot ascertain the functionality of a website, the attorney must proceed with great caution in conducting research on that particular site, and should keep in mind the possibility that even an accidental, automated notice to the juror could be considered a violation.”  In addition, any lawyer conducting online research who learns of juror misconduct is obligated to promptly notify the court.

Bottom line:  As I have said before on numerous occasions, ethics opinions are not binding; however, good faith reliance by a lawyer on an ethics opinion (particularly if it is from the same jurisdiction) may constitute significant mitigation in later proceedings.  Florida has no formal Ethics Opinion which addresses these issue.  This opinion addresses a NY Bar Rule that is similar to Florida’s rule and states that the NY Bar rule appears to prohibit even inadvertent contact and also warns that such contact may occur if a juror is automatically notified that his or her profile or information have been accessed.  While this position is commendable, it may go beyond the scope and intent of the rule prohibiting contact with jurors.  Notwithstanding this observation, all lawyers should proceed with extreme caution when wading into the digital and social media world in the 21st century…

…be careful out there!

As always, if you have any questions about this Ethics Alert or need assistance, analysis, and guidance regarding these or any other ethics, risk management, or other issues, please do not hesitate to contact me.

THE LAW OFFICE OF JOSEPH A. CORSMEIER, P.A.

PROVIDES ETHICS ADVICE AND EXPERT OPINIONS TO LAWYERS AND LAW FIRMS

DEFENDS LAWYERS IN BAR MISSION AND DISCIPLINE CASES

(AND MUCH MORE!)

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Ohio ethics opinion recedes from its 1997 opinion and finds that covert recordings by a lawyer are not per se unethical

Hello and welcome to this Ethics Alert blog which will discuss the recent ethics opinion of the Ohio Supreme Court’s Board of Commissioners Grievances and Discipline which found that a legal covert recording of a conversation by a lawyer is not per se unethical reversing a 1997 ethics opinion which found to the contrary.  The opinion is Ohio Supreme Court Bd. of Commissioners on Grievances & Discipline, Op. 2012-1 (June 8, 2012) and the opinion is here: http://www.sconet.state.oh.us/Boards/BOC/Advisory_Opinions/2012/Op_12-001.pdf.

The 2012 ethics opinion reversed the 1997 opinion which found that a lawyer was prohibited from secretly recording a conversation without the consent of all parties (even though Ohio permits such recording with the consent of a party) and found that it is not inherently unethical for a lawyer to record a conversation if the recording is legal.  Ohio Ethics Opinion 97-3 had found that under the then applicable Ohio Code of Professional Responsibility, a lawyer’s secret recording of conversations was a presumptive violation of the disciplinary rule prohibiting conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation.

The opinion noted that the ABA had changed its position on the issue in 2001 and cited to case law from Ohio and other states, as well as a diminished expectation of privacy with advances in technology.  The opinion stated that 13 states have found that surreptitious recording by lawyers is not per se misconduct, 10 states have found that surreptitious recording is both illegal and unethical for lawyers, 9 states have found that surreptitious recording by lawyers is unethical but allowed in certain circumstances, 4 states evaluate surreptitious recording on a case-by-case basis, and 13 other states have not expressed an opinion on the issue (including Florida).

The ethics opinion also pointed out that under Ohio law, federal law, and the law of a majority of states (but not Florida), the recording of conversations is legal if one party consents and 26 states also permit surreptitious recording by lawyers in at least some situations.  In addition, in 2004, the Ohio Supreme Court dismissed allegations of dishonesty against a lawyer who surreptitiously recorded an interview and when lawyers have been disciplined in other states for surreptitious recording, the misconduct involved additional facts such as lying about the recording.  Further, “(p)ublic expectations of privacy have changed given advances in technology and the increased availability of recording equipment.”

The opinion found that secret legal recordings are not per se unethical; however, even if a secret recording is legal, it may violate Ohio Bar Rule 4.4 (obtaining evidence in violation of a person’s rights), Rule 8.4(b) (illegal act reflecting adversely on honesty or trustworthiness), Rule 8.4(c) (dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation), or Rule 8.4(h) (conduct adversely reflecting on fitness to practice).  Finally, the opinion stated that lawyers typically should not record conversations with clients and prospective clients without their consent (even if legal) and the act of secretly recording a conversation will usually be inconsistent with a lawyer’s obligations of loyalty and confidentiality.  Further, the opinion stated that it was based on the assumption that a lawyer’s surreptitious recording does not violate the law of the jurisdiction where the recording takes place and, before capturing a conversation in another state, an Ohio lawyer should verify that such recording is legal in that jurisdiction.

Bottom line:  This is an interesting and non-binding Ohio ethics opinion.  In Florida, it is a felony to intercept or endeavor to intercept any wire, oral, or electronic communication, or to use or disclose the communication without the consent of all parties unless there is a court order, or under other circumstances, including criminal investigations and Florida lawyers are prohibited from surreptitiously intercepting or recording any communications unless there is a specific exception.

Be careful out there!

As always, if you have any questions about this Ethics Alert or need assistance, analysis, and guidance regarding these or any other ethics, risk management, or other issues, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Disclaimer:  this e-mail does not contain any legal advice and the comments herein should not be relied upon by anyone who reads it.

Joseph A. Corsmeier, Esquire

Law Office of Joseph A. Corsmeier, P.A.

2454 McMullen Booth Road, Suite 431

Clearwater, Florida 33759

Office (727) 799-1688

Fax     (727) 799-1670

jcorsmeier@jac-law.com

www.jac-law.com

 

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Florida 4th DCA affirms $2 million dollar punitive damages award against Florida law firm in legal malpractice/breach of fiduciary duty lawsuit

Hello and welcome to this Ethics Alert blog  which will discuss the recent opinion of Florida 4th District Court of Appeal affirming a $2 million dollar punitive damages award against a Florida law firm.  The case is Young v. Becker & Poliakoff, P.A. — So.3d —, 2012 WL 1859108 (Fla. 4 DCA May 23, 2012) and the opinion is at:  http://www.4dca.org/opinions/May%202012/05-23-12/4D09-4869.rehg.op.pdf

According to the opinion, the law firm of Becker & Poliakoff was sued by Young for legal malpractice and breach of fiduciary duty which ultimately resulted in a jury verdict awarding $394,000.00 in compensatory damages and $4.5 million dollars in punitive damages.  Young appealed the trial court’s order remitting the jury’s punitive damages award from $4.5 million to $2 million, or alternatively, granting a new trial on punitive damages.  The law firm cross-appealed and argued that it was entitled to a directed verdict on legal malpractice and a new trial because of the trial court’s limitation on cross-examination of a witness.

The legal malpractice lawsuit was filed by Young based upon allegations related to the law firm’s handling of her federal employment discrimination suit against BellSouth Telecommunications (BellSouth).  The discrimination lawsuit was filed on May 1, 2001 by Thomas Romeo, an associate with the law firm, on behalf of Young and twelve other BellSouth employees.   At that time, the law firm was engaged in settlement negotiations on behalf of Young and several other plaintiffs in a separate action against BellSouth, which was styled Jackson v. BellSouth Telecommunications, 372 F.3d 1250 (11th Cir. 2004).  The Jackson case was filed against the law firm of Ruden, McClosky, Smith, Schuster & Russell, P.A. (Ruden) for alleged misconduct arising out of their settlement of a prior employment discrimination lawsuit against BellSouth, styled Adams v. BellSouth Telecommunications.

In the original Adams litigation, Ruden represented the plaintiffs (including Young) and negotiated a settlement for them.  In the later filed Jackson case, the plaintiffs alleged that Ruden, while negotiating the settlement in Adams, made an improper side deal with BellSouth and entered into undisclosed agreements that were unlawful and unethical.  Young was among the several plaintiffs in the Jackson case who hired the law firm to represent them against BellSouth and Ruden.

The law firm settled the Jackson case in the summer of 2002 for $8 million and received $2,927,540.00 for its fees and costs; however, before the case was settled, and while settlement negotiations were underway, Thomas Romeo and the law firm were hired by Young and twelve other plaintiffs to file a separate federal lawsuit on their behalf against BellSouth for alleged continuing discrimination.  Unknown to Young (but apparently known to the law firm), this new lawsuit was dismissed because of the expiration of the statute of limitations and this created a conflict of interest for the law firm while settling the Jackson case.  This alleged conflict formed the basis of Young’s claims of legal malpractice and breach of fiduciary duty.

In the malpractice lawsuit, Young alleged that the law firm intentionally delayed telling her about the dismissal of her case until after the Jackson case was settled.  The jury found that the law firm knew that the case had been dismissed, but withheld that information from Young so they could settle the Jackson case and secure the $2.9 million fee and cost reimbursement in that case.  The jury returned a verdict for Young of $394,000.00 in compensatory damages which consisted of $144,000.00 in past lost wages and $250,000.00 in damages for “pain and suffering, mental anguish, or loss of dignity.”  The jury also awarded $4.5 million in punitive damages against the law firm; however, the trial court remitted the punitive damages to $2 million, finding that the amount was not supported by evidence that the law firm had insufficient financial resources to comply with such a verdict without facing bankruptcy.  Young rejected the remittitur/new trial order and filed the appeal.

According to the opinion, Thomas Romeo, a former law firm associate who had been disbarred in 2003, testified at the malpractice trial.  Counsel for the law firm sought to introduce the disbarment and details of the disbarment prior to beginning his cross-examination.  The law firm’s lawyer argued that since Romeo was a key witness at the trial, his credibility was “squarely at issue” and the lawyer should be allowed to impeach Romeo’s credibility with evidence of his disbarment.  The trial court found that evidence of the disbarment was not admissible, relying on Tormey v. Trout, 748 So.2d 303, 306 (Fla. 4th DCA 1999) wherein the 4th DCA held that cross-examination of the defendant’s medical expert regarding administrative discipline was an improper attack on his credibility.  The law firm cross-appealed the denial of the directed verdict and this exclusionary ruling by the trial court.

The opinion found that the trial court’s exclusion of the testimony was correct and that Romeo’s testimony that he was not currently practicing law did not open the door to evidence of his disbarment since his testimony:

“was not misleading to the jury; he never represented to the jury, expressly or impliedly, that he was a lawyer in good standing, and he did not testify about legal issues as an expert witness. Romeo testified merely as a fact witness concerning his recollection of events surrounding the Young v. BellSouth case.  He referred to areas of discrimination law and procedures only to explain why he filed certain claims and took particular actions during the relevant time period. The fact that he was disbarred at a later date for unrelated reasons was irrelevant and unfairly prejudicial.  The trial court ruled appropriately and did not abuse its discretion in disallowing this evidence.”

The opinion affirmed the trial court’s order for remittitur or new trial based on the “economic castigation or bankruptcy” ground relied on by the trial court and found no error in the trial court’s denial of the law firm’s motion for directed verdict and the ruling on the proffered disbarment impeachment evidence.

Bottom line:  This case is a bit scary on multiple levels, including the large amount of punitive damages (even after the remittitur) and the potential serious Bar rule violations.  The opinion also found that evidence of the disbarment of a “fact witness” is not admissible (presumably proffered as an admissible prior bad act) if the testimony of that witness is not misleading or a misrepresentation…

…be careful out there.

As always, if you have any questions about this Ethics Alert or need assistance, analysis, and guidance regarding these or any other ethics, risk management, or other issues, please do not hesitate to contact me.

THE LAW OFFICE OF JOSEPH A. CORSMEIER, P.A.

PROVIDES ETHICS ADVICE AND EXPERT OPINIONS TO LAWYERS AND LAW FIRMS

DEFENDS LAWYERS IN BAR MISSION AND DISCIPLINE CASES

(AND MUCH MORE!)

My law firm focuses on review, analysis, and interpretation of the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar, advice and representation of lawyers in Bar disciplinary matters, defense of applicants for admission to The Florida Bar before the Board of Bar Examiners, defense of all Florida licensed professionals in discipline and admission matters before all state agencies and boards, expert ethics opinions, and practice management for lawyers and law firms.  If there is a lawyer or other Florida professional license involved, I can defend the complaint or help you get your license.

Disclaimer:  this e-mail does not contain any legal advice and the comments herein should not be relied upon by anyone who reads it.

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New York lawyer suspended for 2 years for improper sexual conduct toward opposing counsel during a pre-trial conference in judge’s chambers

Hello and welcome to this Ethics Alert blog which will discuss the recent opinion of the New York Appellate Court suspending a New York lawyer for 2 years for improper sexual conduct toward opposing counsel during a pre-trial conference in the trial judge’s chambers.  The case is Matter of Baker, 18 AD3d 62.

The lawyer, Lawrence Baker, was admitted to practice in New York in 1979 and allegedly engaged in the improper sexual conduct toward opposing counsel in the judge’s chambers during a pre-trial conference in 2010 during a pending litigation.  A disciplinary referee found that the lawyer made sexually suggestive comments to the opposing attorney, exposed his genitals to her, and kissed her and put his hands inside her brassiere.

According to the opinion, the lawyer “admittedly engaged in inappropriate conversation and conduct of a sexual nature, including touching opposing counsel on the shoulder with what respondent characterized as a ‘love tap.  Although (the lawyer) attempted to explain his admitted conduct as a ‘bad joke,’ the Referee found that his explanations in that regard were ‘disingenuous and calculating’”  The Referee also found that the “engaged in additional unwanted and highly inappropriate conduct of a sexual nature, including exposing his genitals to opposing counsel, twice kissing her on her neck and shoving both of his hands inside her blouse and bra and touching her breasts. The Referee further found that respondent engaged in additional inappropriate conversation of a sexual nature, which included crude sexual references to opposing counsel’s anatomy.”

The opinion found that the lawyer violated New York Bar Rule 8.4 (b) by “engaging in illegal conduct that adversely reflects on his honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer” and Rule 8.4 (h) for “engaging in conduct that adversely reflects on his fitness as a lawyer” and suspended the lawyer for 2 years.

The names of the judge in whose chambers the incident allegedly occurred and the opposing counsel were not mentioned in the opinion, which noted that the lawyer had been censured in 2005 for engaging in inappropriate conduct directed toward a client but the misconduct was not sexual in nature.  According to the recent media reports, there are no criminal charges currently pending against the lawyer.

Bottom line:  Wow, what could this lawyer have possibly been thinking?  Do I need to say anything more?

Be careful out there.

As always, if you have any questions about this Ethics Alert or need assistance, analysis, and guidance regarding these or any other ethics, risk management, or other issues, please do not hesitate to contact me.

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Ohio Supreme Court discipline board recommends 6 month suspension for lawyer who warned Ohio State coach of player misconduct

Hello and welcome to this Ethics Alert blog which will discuss the recent decision of the Ohio Supreme Court Board of Commissioners on Grievances and Discipline recommending that a lawyer who sent e-mails to then Ohio State coach Jim Tressel warning him that Ohio State football players were selling memorabilia or trading them for tattoos receive a six month suspension.  The case is Ohio Supreme Court Board of Commissioners on Grievances re: Christopher Thomas Cicero.

According to the disciplinary Complaint, the lawyer met with a Columbus tattoo parlor owner named Edward Rife on April 2, 2010 and again on April 15, 2010, to discuss whether he would represent Rife in a federal drug-trafficking case.  Without informing Rife, the lawyer sent e-mails to Tressel stating that he had met with Rife, who was a former client, and that he “was just passing (the player misconduct information) on”.  He also stated in the e-mail that “(i)f he (Rife) retains me, and he may, I will try to get (the memorabilia) back.”  In another e-mail on the same day, the lawyer said “I have to sit tight and wait to see if he retains me, but at least he came in last night to do a face to face with me.”  The lawyer also asked Tressel to keep the information “confidential”.

The Complaint states that the lawyer played for the Ohio State football team from 1981 to 1984, he was admitted to practice in Ohio on May 16, 1988, and he had been suspended from practice for one year in 1997.  The revelation of the players’ activities triggered a scandal which ultimately led to Tressel’s firing and an NCAA investigation resulting in a bowl ban for this year, reductions in scholarships, the loss of Ohio State’s $389,000 share of Big Ten bowl payments, and the vacation of its entire 2010 season.

According to media reports, disciplinary board initially found in February 2012 that the lawyer violated Ohio Bar rules of professional conduct which prohibit revealing confidential information from meetings with a prospective client and recommended a six month suspension; however, the board agreed to review the decision after the lawyer requested reconsideration claiming that the board relied on a faulty transcript of a November 2011 hearing and that a corrected quote in the updated transcript could or would change the decision.  In the original transcript, the lawyer was quoted as stating that “I quoted (Rife) a legal fee and that’s just it.”  The corrected transcript stated that the lawyer actually said, “I never quoted him a legal fee and that’s just it.”  The Board said that the revised transcript was not sufficient to reverse the decision or the suspension recommendation. 

Bottom line:  This lawyer appears to have acted out a concern for the university from which he graduated and for which he played football.  This concern apparently caused him to reveal confidences provided to him by a client (or potential client) and, as a result, he may or will be suspended for six months for this rule violation.  Unfortunately, altruistic motives do not necessarily justify Bar rule violations…

Be careful out there.

As always, if you have any questions about this Ethics Alert or need assistance, analysis, and guidance regarding these or any other ethics, risk management, or other issues, please do not hesitate to contact me.

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Florida law firm is removed from federal case after lawyer scheduled depositions at Dunkin’ Donuts, engaged in “deplorable behavior”, and disparaged opposing counsel

Hello and welcome to this Ethics Alert blog which will discuss the recent lengthy Order of a federal District Judge which disqualified a Florida lawyer and his law firm from a fair labor standards litigation partially because of his “flagrant disrespect” and misconduct in the case and a prior case with the same corporate defendant and opposing counsel.  The case is Bedoya et al. v. Aventura Limousine & Transportation Service, Inc., et al., Case No. 11-24432-Civ-Altonaga/Simonton.  The Order is also attached.

The lawyer and law firm (Richard Celler and Morgan & Morgan), sued a limousine service and corporate officers in two separate cases.  According to the U.S. District Judge’s Order, the lawyer made “choice statements” in an e-mail to opposing counsel, engaged in improper communications with the opposing party, and disparaged the opposing lawyer in the presence of his clients.  The lawyer also engaged in “deplorable behavior”, including scheduling depositions at Dunkin’ Donuts, attending the deposition in T-shirts and shorts, and drawing penis pictures and playing Angry Birds during the deposition.

According to the Order, although some of the lawyer’s misconduct occurred in a prior case, it was relevant because it embarrassed the defendants and interfered with their relationship with their lawyer.  The Order also found that the lawyer acted with “flagrant disrespect” for the opposing lawyer and engaged in a consistent course of unprofessional conduct, which included telling a defendant, who was an officer of the limousine company, that the company could afford a better lawyer and that he would never settle with the opposing lawyer.

The lawyer argued that he merely advised the defendant to hire outside counsel who specialized in labor issues and, in any event, the communication was not an improper communication with a represented person because the other lawyer was nearby.  The Order rejected this argument and referred an e-mail written by the lawyer to the opposing wherein wherein he apparently confirmed the conversation with the opposing party regarding his refusal to settle and criticized the e-mail for its “utter lack of professionalism”.  The e-mail stated, in part:

“It is apparent that your MO is trying to purposefully delay things as much as possible. This is because it appears (from what I observed at trial), you are not a trial lawyer.  If you want to play in the sand box with trial lawyers, you are going to do it the right way or we are going to call you out to the judge—every time. …. We are not interested, nor are our clients, in settlement discussions with you as long as you are the lawyer on the other side. You are causing your client a great disservice. If you were not on the other side of the table, we would have a better chance of any resolution and would sit with the principals of the company. I have told Scott Tinkler this. Time to put your boots on and get to work. No more whining, no more complaining about how you have no support staff, no more complaining about how much work you have to do.  Nobody on this side of the Internet cares.”

The Order found that the lawyer engaged in multiple instances of misconduct and violated multiple Bar Rules and disqualified both the lawyer and the law firm.  The Order stated, “(i)n so finding, the Court is influenced by the egregiousness of the Florida Bar Rule violations, and the grave impact of (the lawyer’s) disparaging acts have had on the attorney-client relationship between (the opposing lawyer) and Defendants.”

Bottom line:  Is this lawyer now asking (himself) “did I actually write, say, and do this and what in the world was I thinking (or not thinking)”?  Needless to say, I would recommend that lawyers refrain from doing this.

Be careful out there.

 

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