A legal spat between the Ticket Clinic and a ticket-fighting startup has led to a Florida Bar investigation.
The bar is considering litigation against the startup Tikd and its CEO for possibly practicing law without a license, a bar representative said. A South Florida-based committee recommended the bar seek a civil injunction from the Florida Supreme Court. Now the bar’s statewide committee on the unlicensed practice of law will decide whether to go forward.
Coral Gables entrepreneur Christopher Riley launched Tikd earlier this year, promising drivers an easy way to get minor traffic tickets dismissed. The Tikd app allows users to upload a ticket via smartphone and pay a fee about 15 to 30 percent below the ticket fine. The startup farms out the ticket defense work to local lawyers, and Tikd pays the clients’ fines if they lose.
The Ticket Clinic — the 30-year-old ticket defense law firm whose advertisements are plastered on billboards all over Miami — raised hell. The firm sued Tikd in April, alleging the startup was misleading consumers and violating Florida Bar rules.
The lawsuit claimed Tikd’s website included misleading statements from its nonlawyer founders, such as “we handle many cases” and “we will handle the court appearance.” It also alleged Tikd violated bar rules by agreeing to pay client fines, which lawyers are forbidden from doing.
Tikd fired back days later with a lawsuit claiming Ticket Clinic attorneys were interfering with its business by calling Tikd’s contract lawyers and threatening to have them disbarred. Both lawsuits were withdrawn this week after the parties reached an agreement.
Ticket Clinic attorney Louis Arslanian of Hollywood said his firm decided not to pursue its claims while the Florida Bar concludes its proceeding. The bar has exclusive jurisdiction over the unlicensed practice of law, and the Ticket Clinic’s other gripes would be resolved if the bar investigation results in an injunction against Tikd, he said.
The initial bar complaint was filed by Ted Hollander, a Ticket Clinic attorney, in February.
Tikd’s legal team is led by high-profile Miami attorneys Tim Kolaya of Greenberg Traurig and Ramon Abadin of Sedgwick, a former Florida Bar president.
“We are hopeful that when The Florida Bar reviews all of the facts presented, it will agree that Tikd is not a law firm and does not give legal advice,” a Tikd statement said. “Tikd is a technology company that uses big data to provide a more efficient, cost effective service for customers. Our service has been designed to provide consumers with resources that facilitate affordable access to justice.”