“Prosecutors estimate that as many as 60,000 car accident victims may have had their confidential information improperly disclosed” in a scheme in which New York Police Department employees accepted money to pass information about 911 callers to an outfit that would then urge them to visit prearranged medical clinics and lawyers. “He told his fraudulent call center not to target victims in Manhattan, court documents said, because ‘those people got attorneys.’… ‘We want all the bad neighborhoods.’” With bonus HIPAA content: the ringleader of the scheme, besides paying off police personnel, allegedly “bribed employees at hospitals and medical centers to violate the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, known as HIPAA, and disclose confidential patient information for car accident victims, the documents say.” [Ali Watkins, New York Times]
Dear lawyers: you might want to avoid portraying a superhero character in your advertising “if you actually do the thing your character purportedly fights against” such as injuring your clients and then making excuses [Kevin Underhill, Lowering the Bar; Cook County, Ill. judge sentences Jordan Margolis to three years]
South Carolina: “Personal injury lawyer and ubiquitous TV pitchman George Sink wants his namesake son to stop using his birth-given moniker to market a fledgling law firm, saying two attorneys with identical names are confusing potential clients.” The request for a temporary injunction against George Sink, Jr. cites the likelihood of confusion with the trademarks of the elder’s firm, for which the son worked until the two parted ways in February. [David Wren, Charleston Post and Courier]
An agreement between the father and son calls for any business dispute to be settled in arbitration, which is tentatively scheduled for December, and limits damages to $500 — an amount Sink Jr. already has paid to his father.
Sink Sr. said in court documents the agreement should be set aside because he signed it without reading it. …The temporary injunction, if granted, would last until an arbitrator decides the case.
P.S. Meanwhile in NYC: “The messy professional break-up between hot-shot personal-injury lawyers Ross Cellino and Steve Barnes is moving from the courthouse to the playhouse, dramatized in a stage show playing next month in Brooklyn.” [Aaron Feis and Julia Marsh, New York Post, earlier]
“Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn have charged a physician and the owner of a medical consulting firm over a scheme to persuade women to have their pelvic mesh implants surgically removed to bolster the value of lawsuits against the devices’ manufacturers.” The prosecutors charge that the two lied to women about the health risks of mesh and of its surgical removal, and participated in a system of improper bribes and kickbacks. “The procedures were paid with money from high-interest cash advances arranged by a group of so-called litigation finance firms.” [Matthew Goldstein, New York Times, earlier on pelvic mesh here, here, here, etc.] More: Goldstein on suits by clients against lawyers.
“In terms of the evidence, the trial lawyers [suing Bayer and Johnson & Johnson over the blood thinner Xarelto] had a losing hand — any kind of sane judicial system would have them leaving the field of battle, a defeated army.” But they’d signed up a remarkable 25,000 clients, buying an estimated 129,000 ads seeking such business in 2016, with one law firm alone spending $20 million a year on promotion. When you’ve got that big a base of clients to throw at them, “companies settle meritless cases.” [Joe Nocera, Bloomberg Opinion]
“Have you been hurt in an accidental car? Has the government sold your lungs without asking nicely?… Answer me!” — humor from Keaton Patti on Twitter. “The lawyer opens a briefcase. It’s full of lemons, the justice fruit only lawyers may touch.” Call for a free use of phone!
Tort reform groups have warned for a while that trial lawyer ads hyping side effects from commonly prescribed drugs might lead some patients to go off prescribed medication regimens. Now “a new paper co-authored by University of Oregon law professor Elizabeth Tippett, a key witness at last year’s congressional hearing [raising the issue], offers some empirical evidence that drug injury ads by trial lawyers and legal marketing firms do, in fact, mislead some consumers. And when those ads are deceptively framed as health warnings, Tippett and her co-author found, patients are less likely to refill or renew prescriptions.” [Alison Frankel, Reuters]
“Patients sitting in emergency rooms, at chiropractors’ offices and at pain clinics in the Philadelphia area may start noticing on their phones the kind of messages typically seen along highway billboards and public transit: personal injury law firms looking for business by casting mobile online ads at patients. The potentially creepy part? They’re only getting fed the ad because somebody knows they are in an emergency room.” [Bobby Allyn, NPR]