Posts Tagged ‘crash faking’

John McCain and “intentional” car crashes

Arizona Sen. John McCain is under fire for asserting on the Bill O’Reilly show that “the drivers of cars with illegals in it … are intentionally causing accidents on the freeway.” It would be natural to assume he was referring to the well-established “swoop-and-squat” racket described repeatedly in these columns — here, for instance. You might think illegal aliens would avoid these scams for fear of deportation, but you would be wrong: they are well represented among the participants.

I hold no brief for McCain, and I doubt very much that the workings of this particular criminal subculture should figure among the top twenty policy considerations in deciding how best to handle illegal immigration. And if a Senate spokeswoman is to be credited, McCain may actually had in mind the phenomenon of high-speed police chases — though it is far from clear why those crashes would ordinarily count as intentional. But blogger incredulity about the idea that car crashes can ever be intentional seems misplaced.

28 felony counts in California crash-faking indictment

“For several years, [defendant Susana] Chung ‘acted as the conduit’ of fraudulent insurance claims filed in connection with staged crashes in Northern California, said Larry Blazer, an Alameda County assistant district attorney.” Nearly 100 persons, mostly “victims” of bogus accidents but also including three chiropractors, have been found guilty in the scheme. [San Francisco Chronicle, Oakland Tribune via ABA Journal]

November 4 roundup

Microblog 2008-10-31

  • Beck & Herrmann skewer Waxman report on drug tort pre-emption [Drug & Device Law h/t Ted; much more at PoL] #
  • Good news, Fed Circuit in Bilski case limits business method patents [AP, Patently-O, Parloff] #
  • “Silicon Valley Stands United Against Prop. 8” [TechCrunch] # Not too late to donate against the proposition whether or not you live in California [before you forget] #
  • Crash-faking ring in Queens targeted Asian drivers [NY Times] #
  • Community Reinvestment Act: bogeyman in housing mess, or unrelated red herring? Truth somewhere in between [Husock, City Journal] #
  • “Dopeler Effect” = tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly [@legalblogger] #
  • Going to go as Wall Street and terrify everyone: Happy Hallowe’en. #

October 14 roundup

  • Don’t miss Roger Parloff’s tour de force coverage in Fortune blowing whistle on that dodgy suit in Moscow against Bank of New York Mellon, adorned by participation of lawprofs Dershowitz and Blakey [PoL overview, main article]
  • Digital remixes and copyright law [Lessig, WSJ]
  • Surgeon at Connecticut’s Greenwich Hospital revealed as drug abuser, Koskoff, Koskoff & Bieder now pressing suit on behalf of general class of patients, which sounds like it means “whether harmed or not” [Greenwich Time, Newsday via TortsProf weekly roundup]
  • Chicago sheriff halting foreclosures, or maybe not, reportage is confused [Reuters, big discussion at Steve Chapman blog] And is Obama taking the idea national with bid for 90-day moratorium on foreclosures? [AP]
  • Foie gras-style financial gavage? “None of banks getting government money was given a choice about it, said one of the people familiar with the plans.” [Bloomberg, Bernstein @ Volokh] More: Ann Althouse, Kuznicki/Cato at Liberty.
  • Trey Allen law firm in Dallas agrees to pay $840,000 restitution after profiting from staged car crash scheme, but Allen’s lawyer says client wasn’t aware of any fraud [ABA Journal]
  • Smoking bans, alcohol taxes contributing to steep decline of English village pubs [Newsweek]
  • Bias-law panel rules Wal-Mart within its rights not to hire a female applicant for Santa Claus position [eight years ago on Overlawyered]

Operation “Staged Impact”

The FBI undercover crash-fraud investigation netted 35 defendants, including 31 patients faking injury supposedly arising from car crashes and three “runners”. It also caught lawyer Jordan Luber (Luber & Cataldi) of Philadelphia. Per the Philadelphia Business Journal:

The sting included a fake chiropractic clinic the FBI set up in Northeast Philadelphia called Injury Associates. Instead of providing care it generated paperwork to make it appear patients received treatment so they could file fake claims.

According to prosecutors: Two agents posing as cleaning women told Luber they went to Injury Associates and wanted to pursue claims. They admitted on audio and video recordings to Luber that they had not received any treatment and had created fake medical records. Luber still pursued the claims, telling an insurer they were in an accident and received treatment. He negotiated a settlement of $7,500 each.

Luber, who is reported to have kept $6,000 of the $15,000 or 40% as his fee, drew a sentence of two months plus a year of supervised release and 100 hours of community service. He is “also prohibited from practicing law for a year.” The Philadelphia Daily News account says he’s surrendered his license, although the only report I could find online is of a suspension (PDF). So it sounds as if, assuming equal luck in any bar disciplinary process, he might reapply for the license and be back practicing law before too long. Won’t that bolster confidence in our court system? (IFA Webnews via P&S weekly roundup).

Another giant L.A. crash-faking ring

Los Angeles police arrested 20 suspects, with warrants for another 20 still outstanding, in what the department said was another massive auto accident claim fraud ring, headed they say by Curtis H. Connor with involvement from many members of his family. After faking accidents, investigators say, the Connors would “use lawyers in on the scam to submit claims and demand payments for both injuries and damage to the car.” A chiropractic office and auto body repair shop were also part of the family enterprise. (Joel Rubin and Ken Bensinger, “Family members held in major insurance scam”, L.A. Times, Mar. 7). Earlier coverage here, here, here, etc.

June 8 roundup

  • Litigation as foreign policy? Bill authorizing U.S. government to sue OPEC passes House, and is already contributing to friction with Russia [AP; Reuters; Steffy, Houston Chronicle; earlier here, here, and here]

  • Albany prosecutors charge boxing champion’s family with staging 23 car crashes, but a jury acquits [Obscure Store; Times-Union; North Country Gazette]

  • New at Point of Law: Bill Lerach may retire; Abe Lincoln’s legal practice; Philip Howard on getting weak cases thrown out; “Year of the Trial Lawyer” in Colorado; and much more;

  • Multiple partygoers bouncing on a trampoline not an “open and obvious” risk, says Ohio appeals court approving suit [Wilmington News-Journal]

  • Skadden and its allies were said to be representing Chinatown restaurant workers pro bono — then came the successful $1 million fee request, bigger than the damages themselves [NYLJ]

  • Who will cure the epidemic of public health meddling? [Sullum, Reason]

  • Turn those credit slips into gold, cont’d: lawsuits burgeon over retail receipts that print out too much data [NJLJ; earlier]

  • Lawprof Howard Wasserman has further discussion of the Josh Hancock case (Cardinals baseball player crashes while speeding, drunk and using cellphone) [Sports Law Blog; earlier]

  • “Women prisoners in a Swedish jail are demanding the ‘human right’ to wear bikinis so they can get a decent tan.” [Telegraph, U.K.]

  • Disbarred Miami lawyer Louis Robles, who prosecutors say stole at least $13 million from clients, detained as flight risk after mysterious “Ms. Wiki” informs [DBR; earlier at PoL]

  • Indiana courts reject motorist’s claim that Cingular should pay for crash because its customer was talking on cellphone while driving [three years ago on Overlawyered]

Biggest NY staged-accident bust ever

The operation staged thousands of car accidents around the New York City area, investigators say, following the classic modus operandi of having a ring member pull in front of an unsuspecting driver and slam on the brakes to force a collision so as to generate insurance claims. (New York has a no-fault insurance law; similar scams are found in states with both fault and no-fault systems). A second car would then drive up, often discharging more claimed passengers while whisking away the original driver of the scam vehicle (so that his name would not turn up in too many claims). “Those indicted included doctors, psychiatrists, chiropractors, dentists and nearly 20 bogus health-care clinics … Lawyers whom prosecutors said were aware that the claims were false often called the insurance companies and threatened to file suits if the claims were not paid.” (Patrick Healy, “Investigators Say Fraud Ring Staged Thousands of Crashes”, New York Times, Aug. 13)(see Apr. 2, 2001, Aug. 25-27, 2000, Sept. 13, 1999).