This is what happens when the bunker tries to improve the law, or build a better mousetrap, or actually try to think through a thorny potential conflict issue: NO SOUP FOR YOU!
We have previously explained that the Florida Rules of Professional Conduct provide the standard for determining whether counsel should be disqualified in a given case. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. v. K.A.W., 575 So. 2d 630, 633 (Fla. 1991); see also Estright v. Bay Point Improvement Ass’n, Inc., 921 So. 2d 810, 811 (Fla. 1st DCA 2006) (“An order involving the disqualification of counsel must be tested against the standards imposed by the [Florida] Rules of Professional Conduct.”) (quoting Morse v. Clark, 890 So. 2d 496, 497 (Fla. 5th DCA 2004)). In this case, the Third District’s review below should have been limited to whether the trial court abused its discretion in granting the disqualification motion. See Applied Digital Solutions, Inc. v. Vasa, 941 So. 2d 404, 408 (Fla. 4th DCA 2006) (“The standard of review for orders entered on motions to disqualify counsel is that of an abuse of discretion. While the trial court’s discretion is limited by the applicable legal principles, the appellate court will not substitute its judgment for the trial court’s express or implied findings of fact which are supported by competent substantial evidence.”) (citation omitted). However, instead of just applying the Florida Rules of Professional Conduct to determine whether the trial court abused its discretion in disqualifying the attorneys, the Third District adopted a different test, namely a balancing test used by the federal courts. Broin, 84 So. 3d at 1112. However, as explained above, this is not the proper test for motions to disqualify counsel as set forth by this Court, and the Third District lacked the constitutional authority to adopt a new test. Art. V, § 15, Fla. Const.Ouch!