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January 19th, 2016

Florida Supreme Court Disbars Three Attorneys Who Set DUI Trap for Opposing Counsel

Though it more typically conducts itself in a manner that helps make the Sunshine State a perennial Judicial Hellhole, the Florida Supreme Court late last week did a good thing by unanimously disbarring three Tampa attorneys who deserved it.

Stephen Diaco, Robert Adams and Adam Filthaut were found by a lower court to have conspired to gain an advantage in a multimillion-dollar defamation lawsuit by ensnaring opposing counsel in a DUI honeypot.

According to the lower court’s report, Filthaut, an associate attorney at the now-defunct Adams & Diaco firm, received a text from Adams, one of the firm’s partners, noting that a paralegal had found opposing counsel, Phillip Campbell, in a nearby steakhouse and that she would be socializing with Campbell there.

Filthaut then called a close friend of his who worked as a sergeant on the Tampa Police Department’s “DUI Squad.”  Filthaut falsely told the sergeant that Campbell habitually drank and drove after work, and could be found leaving the steakhouse soon.  Filthaut did not disclose to his police sergeant friend that Campbell was opposing counsel in one of his cases, and a patrol car was ultimately dispatched to lay in wait for Campbell.

Meanwhile, the firm’s paralegal had taken a seat next to Campbell at the bar, chatted him up and bought him drinks.  The trap was set.

Though Campbell had not driven his car that day, the paralegal talked him into driving her car and he was pulled over for DUI shortly after they left the restaurant.

As events later unfolded, Campbell and his co-counsel in the case discovered that the woman who owned the car worked for Adams & Diaco.  Further investigation linked Filthaut and the police sergeant.  Campbell’s DUI charge was eventually dismissed, and the police sergeant was dismissed from his job.

Additional reporting can be found at Law360 for those with a subscription.

 

 

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