United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Tampa Division
ARNOLD SANSONE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Hilda van Hoek and Defendants McKesson Corporation, PSS World
Medical, Inc., McKesson Medical-Surgical Inc., and McKesson
Medical-Surgical Top Holdings, Inc. (collectively, the
defendants), appeared for a hearing on van Hoek's motion
to disqualify the defendants' counsel (Doc. 95) on July
25, 2019. (Doc. 102). For the reasons stated below and on the
record at the hearing, van Hoek's motion to disqualify
counsel is DENIED.
Hoek originally filed this action in state court. (Doc. 1,
Ex. A). On October 18, 2017, the defendants removed the
action to this court. (Doc. 1). Attorneys Gregory Hearing and
Sacha Dyson appeared on behalf of the defendants.
(Id.). Until April 28, 2019, Hearing and Dyson were
members of the law firm Thompson, Sizemore, Gonzalez &
Hearing, P.A. (TSG&H). (Doc. 99, Ex. A).
and 2010, attorney Sandra Sheets, with the law firm
GrayRobinson P.A., represented van Hoek and her husband in
estate planning matters. (Doc. 95-1, p. 1). On January 19,
2010, Sheets mailed van Hoek her completed estate planning
documents. (Doc. 95-1, Ex. A). Sheets attached a cover letter
that ended with, “It was a pleasure working with you in
this matter. If we can be of any help in the future, please
let us know.” (Id.).
2014, attorney Sheets provided legal services to a relative
of van Hoek. (Doc. 95-1, p. 2). It appears Sheets represented
the relative in the financial matter and not van Hoek, but
the bill for services was sent to van Hoek.
April 29, 2019, TSG&H merged with GrayRobinson. (Doc. 99,
Ex. A). Because of the merger, Hearing and Dyson became
employees of GrayRobinson.
2019, van Hoek sought to update her and her husband's
wills. (Doc. 95-1, p. 2). On June 4, 2019, van Hoek contacted
Sheets for assistance. (Id.). Sheets performed a
conflict check, which listed van Hoek as an adverse party in
this action. (Doc. 95-1, Ex. E). Sheets asked whether van
Hoek would sign a conflict of interest waiver.
(Id.). Van Hoek declined to sign the waiver and
Sheets performed no legal work on van Hoek's behalf.
(Doc. 95-1, p. 2).
Hoek requests the court disqualify attorneys Dyson, Hearing,
and the law firm GrayRobinson from representing the
defendants in this action. (Doc. 95). The defendants oppose
van Hoek's request. (Doc. 99). On July 26, 2019, the
court held a hearing on van Hoek's motion to disqualify
counsel for the defendants and orally denied the motion.
(Doc. 102). The court explained its ruling on the record at
the hearing and it is supported by this order.
to disqualify opposing counsel are “generally viewed
with skepticism because...[they] are often interposed for
tactical purposes.” Yang Enter., Inc. v.
Georgalis, 988 So.2d 1180, 1183 (Fla. 1st DCA 2008). The
burden of proof is on the party moving for disqualification.
a party is presumptively entitled to the counsel of his
choice, that right may be overridden only if
‘compelling reasons' exist.'” In re:
BellSouth Corp., 334 F.3d 941, 961 (11th Cir. 2003).
“Disqualification of a party's chosen attorney is
an extraordinary remedy that should be resorted to only
sparingly. . ..” Steinberg v. Winn-Dixie Stores
Inc., 121 So.3d 622, 624 (Fla. 4th DCA 2013).
order disqualifying counsel ‘must be tested against
standards imposed by [the] Rules of Professional
Conduct.'” AlliedSignal Recovery Trust v.
AlliedSignal, Inc., 934 So.2d 675, 678 (Fla. 2d DCA
2006). Van Hoek contends Hearing, Dyson, and
GrayRobinson's representation of the defendants is
prohibited by Florida Bar Rules of Professional Conduct
4-1.7, 4-1.9, and 4-1.0(a).
Florida Bar Rule of ...