FLORIDA BAR ETHICS OPINION
March 10, 1972
Advisory ethics opinions are not binding.
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.
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.