The Florida Bar is moving to disqualify one of its former presidents from a case that is being brought against the statewide lawyer’s association.
Ramon Abadin, partner at Miami-based Sedgwick LLP, should not serve as counsel in TIKD Services LLC vs. The Florida Bar because Abadin was provided attorney-client information during his 2015-16 term, according to a December motion made by the lawyer’s association. However, Abadin called the move unfounded.
“TIKD’s response will be filed and it will explain why the motion is baseless,” Abadin told the Florida Record.
The Florida Record reported in November that Florida-based startup TIKD, which hires lawyers to represent drivers with traffic tickets, filed an $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.
TIKD has based its lawsuit on North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners v. Federal Trade Commission 2015, arguing the lawyers' association is not protected from federal or state antitrust liability,
According to the motion to disqualify, Abadin was given “attorney-client and attorney work-product communications and advice about and involving the specific antitrust issues and allegations asserted in this action,” as an officer of The Florida Bar.
“In addition, Plaintiff’s Complaint and Motion for Preliminary Injunction establish that Mr. Abadin is a material and central witness to the facts giving rise to this action,” according to the motion. Mr. Abadin had a fiduciary duty to maintain the confidentiality of privileged communications and advice he received while serving as an officer of The Florida Bar.”
Keeping Abadin on as counsel would not only be a detrimental disadvantage to the lawyers association, it would also jeopardize “the public’s confidence in the integrity of the legal profession,” according to the motion.
The former Florida Bar president does not see it that way.
“No confidential information was used or needed to file this lawsuit,” Abadin said.
He also referenced Dental Examiners to prove his challenge against The Florida Bar.
“It’s no secret that The Florida Bar supported the losing side in Dental Examiners, or that bar associations are now liable for unsupervised anticompetitive actions, or that The Florida Bar’s rules weren’t changed after Dental Examiners,” Abadin said.
The Florida Bar argues differently.
“For instance, Plaintiff attempts to analogize the North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners to The Florida Bar and specifically alleges that The Florida Bar should have made changes to its “structure, supervision or processes” in the wake of the Dental Examiners decision, but took no action,” according to the motion.
Though Abadin alleges the bar associations are liable for anticompetitive actions, The Florida Bar said its motion to dismiss is not personal.
“The Bar Defendants do not take the issue of disqualification lightly, but where a recent Bar President who was privy to the Bar’s confidential and privileged information, and in fact centrally involved in leadership decisions on those issues on the Bar’s behalf, ignores his conflict of interest and uses that confidential and privileged information to the Bar’s disadvantage, extraordinary circumstances mandate this motion,” according to the motion.