The Florida Bar and a traffic-ticket defense firm are being sued for almost $12 million dollars for anti-competitive conduct.
Florida-based startup TIKD Services LLC., which hires lawyers to represent drivers with traffic tickets, has filed a $11.4 million lawsuit against the Florida Bar and the Ticket Clinic, a private ticket defense law firm, for almost $7 million, more than the $3.8 million dollars the company alleges it lost due to the defendants' anti-competitive conduct.
In the Nov. 8 formal complaint, TIKD said the matter began after the December 2016 Miami Herald publication positively publicized the business, even noting it was more advantageous than the clinic. Soon after the article ran, the bar delivered an informal judgment suggesting the company was operating illegally and that all lawyers associated with the startup would fear future violation of ethical codes.
“When TIKD gave the bar notice that private practice attorneys were claiming the Bar had determined that TIKD’s services are illegal and asked the bar to refute these claims, the bar did nothing,” according to the Nov. 8 complaint.
The Florida Bar declined comment for an interview with the Florida Record. "The Florida Bar does not comment on pending litigation," said Francine Walker, a spokeswoman for the law association.
While the Bar continued to allegedly bring down TIKD, the clinic added to the allegations by filing ethical complaints against the attorneys who TIKD hired to fight client traffic tickets.
“Inside and outside courtrooms, Ticket Clinic lawyers have threatened competing lawyers with bar complaints and disbarment if they represent TIKD customers,” according to the Nov. 8 complaint, which adds that the bar and clinic together affianced in anti-competitive actions that violate the Sherman Antitrust Act and Florida antitrust law.
Clinic associate Ted Hollander, who filed a formal Florida Bar complaint against TIKD, has not responded to interview requests.
To prove its point of anti-competitive action, TIKD cited the landmark antitrust North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners v. Federal Trade Commission 2015, as Supreme Court ruling that employees of state agencies who control the respective industry market are indeed subject to liability.
“Like the North Carolina dental board that was held to be not immune from antitrust liability, the Florida Bar is composed of licensed professionals who participate actively in the market the bar regulates,” according to the Nov. 8 complaint.
TIKD asserts the alleged behavior by the two agencies has not only caused them to lose customers, it has driven ticket defense attorneys formerly hired by the startup away, costing the company $3.8 million.
TIKD seeks $11.4 million in injunctive relief in order to prevent future anti-competitive actions as well as recover treble damages under federal law.