of Original Jurisdiction - Prohibition. Lower Tribunal Nos.
18-4917, 18-4923, 18-596
Sumberg Baena Price & Axelrod LLP, Mitchell E. Widom, and
Raquel M. Fernandez; Kozyak Tropin & Throckmorton LLP, Detra
Shaw-Wilder, Javier A. Lopez, and Harley S. Tropin, Miami,
Weaver Miller Weissler Alhadeff & Sitterson, P.A., Alan H.
Fein, and Jenea M. Reed; Zarco Einhorn Salkowski & Brito,
P.A., Colby G. Conforti, Robert M. Einhorn, and Robert Zarco,
Miami, for respondents.
LOGUE, MILLER, and LOBREE, JJ.
Petitioners, JJN FLB, LLC, 551 FLB 1, LLC, 551 FLB 2, LLC,
551 FLB 3, LLC, 551 FLB 4, LLC, FLB Hotel, LLC, FLB
Restaurant, LLC, FLB R-Units, LLC, FLB U-Units, LLC, and
Bilzin Sumberg Baena Price & Axelrod, LLP, seek writs of
prohibition to prevent the assigned trial judge from further
presiding over their civil disputes against respondents, CFLB
Partnership, LLC, CFLB Management, LLC, The Cantor Group Law
P.A., Sharon Dresser and The Estate of Steven L. Cantor, Hal
J. Webb, Hal J. Webb, P.A., Pruco Life Insurance Company,
Neal Slafsky, CPG Capital, LLC, and United Capital Financial
Advisers, LLC. All motions are grounded upon judicial
findings within a sanctions order rendered in an unrelated
case. Given the common underlying legal and factual issues,
we have consolidated the three separately-filed petitions,
and for the reasons explicated below, we grant relief.
FACTS AND BACKGROUND
of the petitions, petitioners are represented in the lower
tribunal by the law firm of Bilzin Sumberg Baena Price &
Axelrod, LLP (the "Law Firm"). In the remaining
petition, the Law Firm is a party to the litigation and the
General Counsel to the Law Firm has been disclosed as a
mid-September of 2019, after convening a multi-day
evidentiary hearing, the trial judge issued a detailed,
fifty-one-page sanctions order in an unrelated civil
case. The tribunal found by clear and
convincing evidence that the Law Firm "[r]epeatedly made
unsubstantiated, false, and defamatory allegations in sealed
documents and in open court," violated the Rules of
Professional Conduct, misused attorney-client privileged
communications, and participated "in a scheme to bring
[fabricated criminal] charges." The court imposed
sanctions, jointly and severally, against both the individual
attorney of record and the Law Firm.
than ten days later, petitioners filed the subject
disqualification motions. See Fla. R. Jud. Admin.
2.330(e) ("A motion
to disqualify shall be filed within a reasonable time not to
exceed [ten] days after discovery of the facts constituting
the grounds for the motion and shall be promptly presented to
the court for an immediate ruling."). In their appended,
incorporated affidavits, petitioners asserted they harbored a
well-founded fear that, based upon the findings articulated
within the sanctions order in the unrelated case, they will