The Florida Bar

March 10, 1972

When a lawyer in a firm was consulted by both driver and owner-passenger concerning an auto accident and appeared for the driver in traffic court, where the driver was found guilty after both driver and owner-passenger testified, another member of the law firm may not subsequently represent the owner-passenger in a related civil action against the driver.

Opinions: 65-56; 68-53

Chairman Clarkson stated the opinion of the committee:

Two occupants of an automobile involved in an intersection collision, the driver and the owner-passenger, jointly sought legal advice as to their rights and liabilities arising from the accident. A lawyer from the firm which they consulted appeared for the driver at a traffic court hearing, where both the driver and the owner-passenger testified as defense witnesses, notwithstanding which the driver was found guilty.

A member of the firm now inquires whether the firm may represent the owner-passenger in a civil action against the driver so long as the attorney who appeared in traffic court does not participate in bringing the action.

The Committee adheres to former opinions wherein we have disapproved a shifting of positions, real or apparent, in litigation growing out of the same accident. Florida Opinions 65-56 and 68-53. The proposed civil representation would be improper. The inhibition against the second retainer applies equally to all members or associates of the firm.

[Revised: 08-24-2011]