Citing Latest Bombshell Allegations of Trial-Lawyer Fraud, ATRA Urges Congress, DOJ to Investigate
Pelvic Mesh Defendant’s Motion Offers Extensive Evidence of Medical Privacy Violations and Massive Fraud in Recruiting Plaintiffs
WASHINGTON, D.C., January 14, 2015 – In light of a stunning defense motion filed today in a West Virginia federal court, alleging massive fraud on the part of plaintiffs’ lawyers in their aggressive recruitment of clients for pelvic mesh litigation, the American Tort Reform Association (ATRA) renewed its call on Congress, prosecutors and bar associations to investigate and punish those who defraud the civil justice system.
“There seems to be something of a double standard when it comes to the willingness of authorities to investigate and prosecute allegations of fraud,” began ATRA president Tiger Joyce. “Mortgage lenders, insurers, energy producers, utilities, a variety of manufacturers and many others are routinely subjected to made-for-media scrutiny by congressional committees, the Department of Justice, the Securities and Exchange Commission and state attorneys general.
“But rarely do examples of even blatant fraud by plaintiffs’ lawyers, such as wholesale creation of phony chest x-rays for asbestos lawsuits, draw comparable scrutiny,” Joyce continued. “Too often, authorities are willing to look the other way and leave private sector victims of trial-lawyer fraud on their own to seek justice.”
Joyce noted lawsuits, brought under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act by CSX Transportation, Feld Entertainment and Chevron that, just in the past year, successfully punished fraud by plaintiffs’ lawyers in asbestos, animal rights and environmental litigation, respectively. He also pointed to ongoing revelations in the Garlock Sealing Technologies bankruptcy proceedings where the presiding judge has already called out plaintiffs’ attorneys for manipulating evidence of asbestos exposure. Garlock has now initiated litigation accusing several asbestos law firms of fraud, and other defendants are expected to do the same.
“With roughly a 100,000 similar claims pending in federal court, today’s defense motion in pelvic mesh litigation raises still more questions about the ethics and practices of some personal injury lawyers and the firms they contract to recruit clients. But investigative authorities continue to avert their eyes,” Joyce observed.
The latest edition of ATRA’s annual Judicial Hellholes report raised a red flag about the alarming multimillion-dollar campaign the plaintiffs’ bar has waged to make mesh litigation the nation’s fastest growing mass tort ̶ even though regulators haven’t declared the surgical implants unsafe, and even as many physicians consider the implants to be the best treatment available for painful conditions suffered by many women.
In its motion filed today in federal multidistrict litigation presided over by U.S. District Judge Joseph R. Goodwin, Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Ethicon, offers extensive evidence of seemingly wholesale fraud by plaintiffs’ lawyers in recruiting mesh surgery plaintiffs. For example, transcripts of recruiters’ phone calls to women that have not even had mesh implant surgeries brazenly encourage the women to lie in order to “collect $30,000 to $40,000” of “compensation.” The motion also alleges unlawful invasions of many women’s privacy by way of violations of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
“How many millions or billions of dollars must U.S. companies unjustly be forced to squander in defending themselves against fraudulent lawsuits before members of Congress, state and federal prosecutors and state bar associations begin to actively investigate, prosecute and punish such fraud? The 114th Congress’s House and Senate judiciary committees should begin gathering information and conducting hearings into allegations of widespread trial-lawyer fraud, and prosecutors and bar associations should pay close attention to their findings,” Joyce concluded.
The American Tort Reform Association, based in Washington, D.C., is the only national organization dedicated exclusively to tort and liability reform through public education and the enactment of legislation. Its members include nonprofit organizations and small and large companies, as well as trade, business and professional associations from the state and national level.