The Florida Bar

Ethics Opinion

Opinion 66-77

January 31, 1967
Advisory ethics opinions are not binding.
A lawyer who represented one party to a three-vehicle accident may not then represent a second
party to the accident, whose interests may include prosecution of a claim against the original
client, in the absence of consent of both clients after full disclosure.


Chairman MacDonald stated the opinion of the committee:
A three-vehicle automobile accident gives rise to the present inquiry. For
purposes of description we shall describe the vehicles from back to front of the
accident as A, B, and C. The accident occurred when vehicle A struck vehicle B
from the rear, pushing vehicle B forward into the rear of vehicle C.
The occupants of vehicle B retained a firm with which the inquirer was
associated to prosecute a claim against the parties responsible for the operation of
vehicle A. The inquirer assisted in the handling of this claim. Subsequently the
firm handling this claim was dissolved and the inquirer has had no further
connection with the handling of the claim on behalf of the occupants of vehicle B,
which claim is apparently still pending.
The inquirer is now requested by an occupant of vehicle C to represent her
interests in the matter. These interests may include the prosecution of a claim
against vehicle B. We are asked as to the propriety of the representation of the
occupant of vehicle C, with the additional request that we comment upon the
propriety of this representation if an investigation revealed that vehicle B was in
fact stopped at the time when the accident occurred and was merely pushed into
vehicle C. Presumably the latter inquiry is premised upon the conclusion that in
such instance there would be no liability on those responsible for the operation of
vehicle B.
It is our opinion that Canon 6, regulating conflicts of interest, governs in this instance and
that the inquirer may not ethically undertake to represent the occupant of vehicle C except with
the express consent of that client and of the clients of his former firm coming after full disclosure
of the circumstances. In our judgment a mere determination on his part that there was no liability
on the part of those responsible for the operation of vehicle B would not be adequate to meet the
criteria imposed by this Canon. Thus in the absence of the informed consent required by the
Canon, the representation proposed would be improper.