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Miccosukee Tribe sues their ex-lawyer Lehtinen for malpractice

n a sour ending to a longtime relationship, the Miccosukee Indians have accused their former lawyer, Dexter Lehtinen, of committing malpractice when he advised the tribe on income-tax issues stemming from the distribution of hundreds of millions in gambling profits to members.

The tribe says in a lawsuit that it paid Lehtinen $50 million as general counsel over the past two decades, but that following his advice has landed the Miccosukees in a costly legal fight with the Internal Revenue Service.

The tribe, which is seeking class-action status in the suit filed in Miami-Dade Circuit Court Monday, asserts that Lehtinen’s “negligent misrepresentation” has exposed about 250 members to tax assessments, interest and penalties “in the millions of dollars.”

The potential class could grow: The West Miami-Dade tribe has about 600 members, including minors. Story here.