In a bad faith case in Federal Court in Florida, a file we shall call here the "*** File" was originally put together by the Plaintiff's attorney who represented the current Plaintiff in the underlying case. The *** File included the underlying attorney's notes regarding what to do with the insurance carrier's offer of policy limits to settle the underlying case. The same insurance carrier involved in the underlying liability case is the Defendant in the current bad faith case.
During the underlying case the underlying attorney contacted the current attorney who is representing the same Plaintiff in the bad faith case, about what to do as a result of the policy limits offer in the underlying case. The underlying attorney's notes concerning that issue were in the *** File along with what appears may have been everything else that was ever in it.
The District Judge resolved several competing motions which included the Plaintiff's motion to compel return of the *** File on the ground that it had been inadvertently produced, and Plaintiff's motion to disqualify the Defendant's counsel and for sanctions.
The District Court said with respect to some of the arguments:
Defendant also accuses Plaintiff's counsel and [legal assistant] of being untruthful in their statements that [Plaintiff's counsel's legal assistant] did not tell her supervising attorneys that she produced the *** File and that they did not discuss the *** File from the time [the legal assistant] produced it until the time that Defense counsel requested to take [a Plaintiff's attorney's] deposition. (See Doc. 81 at 10–11 (arguing that Plaintiff's assertion “defies logic and reason,” “strains believability” and either is “untrue or further evidence of the entire want of care and lack of diligence....”). Such accusations are unprofessional and baseless.7
7Defense counsel's unabashed accusations against Plaintiff's counsel of being untruthful is disconcerting. These are serious accusations that can result in serious consequences; they should not be made lightly or without proper support. There was no basis for Defense counsel's recrimination. Before making any such allegations in the future, Defense counsel would be well advised to review the portion of the Oath of Admission to the Florida Bar that states: “To opposing parties and their counsel, I pledge fairness, integrity, and civility, not only in court, but also in all written and oral communications.”
Walker v. GEICO Indemnity Co., No. 6:15-cv-1002-Orl-41KRS, 2017 WL 1174234, at *6 & n.7 (M.D. Fla. March 30, 2017) (Mendoza, J.).
This case also involved many other facts and circumstances, several declarations and affidavits, at least a couple of depositions, and quite a few cases cited by the lawyers. The District Judge ended up disqualifying the Defendant's law firm, and ordering the Clerk to terminate the lawyers from that firm as counsel of record in the case.
In addition, the District Judge took the Plaintiff's bad faith attorneys up on their firm offer to withdraw from the case once these issues were decided. If they do not withdraw as they said they would, said the District Court, then in effect they were ordered to show cause why they did not withdraw.
Oh, yes. And the District Court ordered the *** File returned to the Plaintiff.
Trial lawyers often think of themselves as warriors. Every warrior knows that when in combat, be sure you've got live ammunition before you open fire.
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