Also from the draft-post archives, this time 2003: was it just too grotesque? Detective Ken Bigg “said that in an attempt to ward off suspicion from insurance companies, the [Chicago-area] crew would alternate between breaking arms and legs” of the victims they would then insert into staged crash scenes. “Bigg said police only learned of the scam when authorities at various homeless shelters began calling to report unusual numbers of residents showing up with broken arms or legs,” and that “the homeless ‘victims,’ who were often recruited from shelters, rarely saw much of [the] money, receiving ‘anything from nothing to $1,500’ on settlements that ranged from $10,000 to $100,000 apiece.” [AP/Northwest Indiana Times; one defendant reportedly nicknamed “Bonecrusher”; more on claims fraud]
- “Syracuse woman sued for not letting adopted cat sleep in bed with her” [CNYCentral]
- St. Louis talc cases: “Thus, in order to vindicate their Due Process rights regarding personal jurisdiction…, the defendants had to litigate with over $5 billion in potential liability hanging over their heads. Not too many defendants [can] do that.” [Jim Beck on Johnson & Johnson win]
- Allegation: “instructed Thomas to get behind the wheel of Thomas’ Avalanche to make it appear that Thomas was driving the vehicle at the time of the staged accident.” [WDSU on indictment of five in New Orleans car-crash scheme] “Those cameras right there saved between $150,000 and $200,000 just by capturing the fraud and us not having to go and defend it.” [Mike Perlstein, WWL] “Don’t listen to the lawyers, take tough action to curb [Louisiana] car insurance costs” [R.J. Lehmann and Marc Hyden, The Advocate; earlier here, here, and here]
- Washington Legal Foundation monograph on judicial oversight of expert testimony [Evan Tager et al.; related webinar] “Stupid expert tricks,” pharmaceutical edition [Jim Beck]
- “Art Imitates Life: ‘Billions’ Describes Six-Figure, Part-Time Jobs On Asbestos Trusts” [Daniel Fisher, Legal Newsline, 2018]
- “DOJ eyes requirement that False Claims Act whistleblowers disclose litigation funding” [Alison Frankel, Reuters, remarks by Deputy Associate Attorney General Stephen Cox]
- Class actions: “How to pick lead counsel, Judge Alsup-style” [Alison Frankel, Reuters]
- Foiled by video: “N.J. man busted staging slip-and-fall for insurance money learns his sentence” [Noah Cohen, NJ Advance Media]
- More on the “reptile theory” of jury persuasion [Drug and Device Law: Stephen McConnell, more from James Beck; earlier here, here, etc.]
- Trial lawyer consultants are sticking with their story that Toyotas are subject to electronically induced sudden acceleration that cannot be overcome by the brakes, and the Fair Warning website is not the place to expect a skeptical reaction to that [Amy Martyn, Fair Warning, our coverage]
- Arbitration-killing bill: so-called FAIR Act is trial bar top priority in Congress [Phil Goldberg, Washington Examiner]
- “Can a new study solve Johnson & Johnson’s talc problem?” [Chuck Dinerstein, American Council on Science and Health]
- U.S. Chamber’s annual lawsuit climate survey ranks Illinois as nation’s worst this year [Institute for Legal Reform]
- Withholding material helpful to the defense: “Time for a Brady-type disclosure requirement for federal government in False Claims Act litigation” [Stephen A. Wood, Washington Legal Foundation]
- “Both sides need to learn that frequently the best response to immature behavior is to ignore it. Don’t react, don’t sink to the other side’s level, don’t try to fight fire with fire.” Advice from a federal judge to the lawyers in a Florida case [Eugene Volokh; Doscher v. Apologetics Afield, Inc.]
- Expert witness follies: litigation funders are filling the old tort lawyer role of bankrolling dodgy research on which future litigation campaigns can be based [Jim Beck]
- Back in July I linked a grim assessment of Pennsylvania’s Oberdorf v. Amazon decision expanding product liability for retail platforms. Here’s a less grim one that came out around the same time [Gus Hurwitz, Truth on the Market]
- By South Florida standards, those $1 million lawsuit fraud charges against an ADA lawyer the other day aren’t especially big; last year feds shut down an auto-claims ring they said cleared $23 million and involved “chiropractors, attorneys, clinic owners and tow-truck drivers.” [Paula McMahon, South Florida Sun-Sentinel; Insurance Fraud Hall of Shame]
“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]
- Court of appeals throws out class action against provincial lottery Loto-Quebec: “[The lead plaintiff] said she wouldn’t have bought the tickets had she known the odds were so slim.” [Canadian Press/CBC]
- And there was much rejoicing: Florida high court finally adopts Daubert, meant to curb use of faulty and unproven science in litigation [Karen Kidd, Florida Record, Beck]
- Fake car-crash claims alleged: “5 SoCal Chiropractors Busted In $6M Insurance Fraud Scheme” [CBS Los Angeles] “Three Men Found Guilty Of $31 Million Slip-And-Fall Scheme Involving Homeless People” [Jen Chung, Gothamist] Cambridgeshire, England: “Footage shows moment car ‘runs over foot’ of binman accused of crash-for-cash scam” [Alex Matthews, The Sun (U.K.)]
- If appellate review somehow leaves intact the scientifically baseless $2 billion Oakland verdict over glyphosate/Roundup, new changes in federal tax law might cut into plaintiffs’ winnings [Robert Wood, Forbes]
- Tamper proof? Old bottles of baby powder bought on eBay are central to plaintiffs’ claims that Johnson & Johnson baby powder may have contained asbestos fibers, a theory that has underlain several large verdicts [Daniel Fisher, Legal NewsLine; John O’Brien, same; Jef Feeley and Margaret Cronin Fisk, Bloomberg]
- “Michigan’s lawmakers have passed legislation to reform the state’s worst-in-the-nation auto insurance market.” [Ray Lehmann, R Street/Insurance Journal, earlier]
Attorneys for Mississippi-based Whitestone Transportation “allege in court documents that their investigations have uncovered evidence of more than 30” incidents around New Orleans following a distinct pattern of “multiple people in a claimant vehicle, sideswipe allegations with commercial vehicle trailers, minimal damage to claimant vehicle, little to no damage to the insured trailer and a commercial vehicle driver who is either unaware of or denies impact, according to trucking attorneys.” “In Louisiana we estimate our insurance costs are three to five times more than the national average,” said Chance McNeely, executive director of the Louisiana Motor Transport Association, and with the legal system not well suited to defeating claims for staged or pretended accidents, companies are increasingly turning to truck-mounted cameras.
“It’s always the same thing: Four people in a sedan, and there’s always a random witness who gives a loose statement to the cops and has a random appointment and has to get away, “ McNeely said. And all too often they use the same attorneys and the same doctors, he said….
“We have a lot of billboards for attorneys, and many of them demonize our industry,” he said.
“The defense said the case, which involved substantial medical damages and a plaintiff who miscarried after the collision, would have been a great plaintiff’s case — if she had actually been in the car she claimed was wrecked.” Instead, after “defense testimony showed that she swapped out the scarcely damaged car before police arrived with another that had been wrecked years earlier” she “walked out of a DeKalb County courtroom with nothing.” [Atlanta; Greg Land, Daily Report Online]
A small town in the Florida Panhandle has long tried to live down its special place in the history of insurance fraud. “By the time the early 1960s rolled around, according to the Tampa Bay Times, Vernon, Florida was responsible for roughly two-thirds of all loss-of-limb-related insurance claims in the United States.” I’ve written on the story a number of times, and Dan Lewis of the oft-recommended-here Now I Know website penned this account in 2012 which I seem to have overlooked at the time, an omission I remedy herewith.
“U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar asked federal prosecutors to investigate nearly 6,000 potentially bogus claims submitted in a $5.3 million settlement with app makers, including Twitter, Instagram and Yelp…. None of the [5,924] identified claims used unique claim numbers provided in email notices that were sent out to potential class members. In addition, numerous claims had different physical addresses but came from identical IP addresses.” [Ross Todd, The Recorder] Some used repetitive street addresses and unlikely or repetitive names of individuals, including at least one individual who was a legitimate member of the class but whose name was used by others to file claims. [Alison Frankel, Reuters (“The class action claim bots are coming! (Actually, they’re already here)”); ABA Journal]