The Florida Bar
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PROFESSIONAL ETHICS OF THE FLORIDA BAR

OPINION 65-37
June 15, 1965

A lawyer does not necessarily commit ethical impropriety in asserting the statute of limitations when sued unless the lawyer has done something to lull the other party into a false sense of security.

Canons: 9, 11; Rule 11.02(4), Integration Rule
Opinion: ABA Informal 273

Chairman Smith stated the opinion of the committee:

A member of The Florida Bar poses two questions for our consideration.

1. May an attorney ethically plead the statute of limitations when sued by his landlord for unpaid rent? In this instance credit was extended by the landlord because the attorney was commencing his practice and initially could not pay rent.

2. May an attorney ethically plead the statute of limitations when sued for repayment of funds which were delivered to the attorney to be forwarded to a foreign attorney in payment for services rendered, or to be rendered, by the foreign attorney?

In Opinion 273 in Appendix A of the compiled Opinions of the Professional Ethics Committee of the American Bar Association it is stated in substance that an attorney may ethically plead the statute of limitations in an action brought against him unless he has done something to lull the other side into a sense of security. This Committee concurs with that opinion.

It should be noted with respect to the second inquiry, however, that the statutes of limitations generally do not run against a trustee holding property in trust and that the attorney may have violated Canon 11, which relates in part to misuse of trust funds of a client. Attention is also directed to Rule 11.02(4) of the Integration Rule of The Florida Bar.

[Revised: 08-24-2011]