Greedy lawyers of the day:
- Palmer, Reifler & Associates runs a shakedown mill
that mass-produces threatening letters and demands for escalating "settlement" to people accused of shoplifting in their clients' stores. They send the demands whether or not the accused were arrested (let alone convicted) and whether or not the recipient was the actual accused thief or just a friend who was present at the time. The assembly-line approach is impressive:
Palmer's firm generates 80,000 to 120,000 demand letters each month for more than 50 clients including Wal-Mart, JCPenney, Kmart and Walgreens, according to the lawsuit. The letters are signed by attorneys in states where the recipients reside, and the lawyers are paid a small monthly fee to allow Palmer's firm to use their electronic signatures, which add gravitas to the demand.
. . .
The firm each month receives a report from its clients with names, ages and addresses of consumers detained. It then uses computer software to automatically generate form letters, calculate the amount and affix a local attorney's name.
The firm receives up to one-third of the money it recoups. It has set up a Web site where recipients of the civil demand letters can pay by credit card.
Of course, under those circumstances there's no way the firm can exercise any sort of independent judgment in such cases to determine whether there is cause for a lawsuit and whether a threat is warranted. Now they've drawn a class action lawsuit. Serves them right.
- Overlawyered spots a press release by upcoming web site WhoCanSue.Com, in which lawyers pay for the privilege to bid on lawsuits pitched deliberately vaguely by potential clients over the internet. WhoCanSue.Com is actually proud of aspects of its plan that it views as innovations and responsible lawyers would view as inducement to sanctionable vexatious litigation:
The unique process used by WhoCanISue.com also ensures that cases are not jeopardized inadvertently, a common pitfall of some other approaches to online matchmaking. Because WhoCanISue.com does not require submission of open-ended descriptions of the facts of the user’s claim, users are not forced to divulge information that could be deemed a waiver of the attorney-client priviledge [sic] resulting in the information being introduced in court and used against them.
See, here's the thing, folks — with the exception of the very simplest of cases ("Somebody done hit me with a shovel. I want money!"), if a potential client's description of a case is so vague that it doesn't risk waiving attorney-client privilege, then it's worthless for purposes of determining whether that potential client has a cause of action. (If the client actually met with a lawyer for a consult, that would be privileged — throwing his or her story out there for bidding is not). That's why, at best, WhoCanISue.Com is getting lawyers to pay to snag people to come in for a follow-up consult. At worst, it's creating an inducement for lawyers to commit to file suit without having a clue whether theres a valid case or not. The site's name would tend to suggest the latter interpretation is more likely.
Last 5 posts by Ken White
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