Erma Miller has filed 21 discrimination claims in southern California over alleged failure to serve her because of her assistance dog. Some defendants suspect a scam: Miller regularly alleges that the failure to permit entrance to the dog meant she couldn’t use the restroom and soiled herself. They’re also suspicious of Miller’s “practice of providing Rottweilers to other people, who took the dogs to businesses, got bounced and filed lawsuits,” and hints that her disbarred-attorney ex-con husband has a hand in the litigation. Lynn Stites had served eight years for a multi-million-dollar litigation-related insurance fraud scheme out of a Grisham novel:
During the 1980s, Stites organized a clandestine network of attorneys who infiltrated complex civil cases in Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties by getting insured defendants to hire them in place of their insurance company lawyers.
Posing as independent and, at times, snarling adversaries, they worked in concert to manufacture new legal controversies so that lawsuits would grow in complexity and cost.
In some cases, the lawyers paid kickbacks to clients for the right to defend them on the insurers’ dime. Stites essentially franchised the litigation, directing strategy and assigning lawyers to various defendants. His minions, in turn, kicked back a cut of their take—paying in cash, precious metals, and improvements to his house.
Three cases are scheduled for trial in the next few months. Miller has already collected six digits worth of settlements, but a suit against Marriott did not go as well:
As part of her deposition, Marriott lawyers videotaped Miller with Giggy, the Rottweiler mix involved in the Marriott suit and several others. Giggy could not obey commands to sit, to pick up Miller’s cane or to help her through the door.
Disclosure: At my former firm, I represented Marriott in unrelated litigation. As with all my posts, I speak for myself, and not for my current employer, my former employers, nor my former clients.