Why No Congressional Oversight of Plaintiff’s Bar?

By March 21, 2008Briefly Legal

Following yesterday agreement by Melvyn Weiss to plead guilty to conspiracy charges, the latest in a string of high-profile tort lawyers caught for their corrupt ways, a theme emerges…

From The Wall Street Journal, “The Felony Bar“:

In the wake of the felony admissions of Weiss and Lerach and last week’s bribery plea by Dickie Scruggs, where are the cries in Congress to crack down on these wealthy wrongdoers who abused their positions of legal trust? Weiss’s corner of the tort bar has enriched itself for decades on the backs of shareholders who took home a pittance while the lawyers became megamillionaires.

From The Examiner:

It is impossible not to wonder what else might have been false in Milberg Weiss cases. The answer to that question is critically important because Milberg Weiss pioneered the securities class-action suit and for decades has provided the template for other plaintiffs firms. And Lerach, who enters federal prison today, said he paid kickbacks because “everybody was paying plaintiffs.” Doesn’t anybody in Congress wonder about copycat crimes?

From Darren McKinney, communications director, American Tort Reform Association:

“There’s never a shortage of rhetorical outrage, hastily scheduled show hearings and promptly proposed reform legislation on Capitol Hill whenever executives of energy, pharmaceutical or insurance companies are accused of wrongdoing.

“But when it comes to rich, powerful plaintiffs’ lawyers committing crimes in order to rig our courts and make themselves even richer, Congress apparently sees no reason to get involved. That should make it clear that trial lawyers comprise one of Washington’s most powerful special interests, and the trial lawyers association should just own up to that obvious fact once and for all.

And from Shopfloor.org:

It is time for high-profile investigations and oversight hearings from Congress into the lawsuit industry, demanding accountability from these spoilers. Let’s investigate their impact on the economy, the abusive model that Milberg-Weiss established, and the harm their predations do to the children. Make the witnesses take the Fifth, if it comes to that. At the very least, the public shaming will serve an educational and deterrent effect.

Of course, we made that argument last October 30th.

Join the discussion 3 Comments

  • Who do you think benefits most from the Mel Weiss “settle for anything” litigation/business model besides Mel Weiss and his partners. The very companies and CEO’s running the various accounting gimmicks, frauds or whatever else he can charge well enough to survive a motion to dismiss. He paid the plaintiff even after the reforms so he would still have the ability to settle the case for anything these corporations would pay. Survive the motion to dismiss and payday is assured. Defense counsel knows how it works, bills their hours knowing that after a game or two of charades Milberg Weiss will eventually take a lowball settlement. The record and the plea agreements speak for themselves.

  • Hugh says:

    What about the rich, powerful CEOS who are more crooked than the lawyers you reference– seems like we have alot more of those than the lawyers. All professions have the bad eggs and the impact on the common consumer and worker has been felt alot harder by the crooked CEOs and corporations like Ken Lay, Bernie Ebbers, etc. Washington’s most powerful special interests are the corporations who have millions more in lobbying dollars spent and donated to candidates.

  • The vast majority of the problem is the result of crooked lawyers, not bad cases. Everybody knows that history includes many dubious financial “accounting” holdup cases by Milberg Weiss and its many imitators. The real problem today is these same crooked lawyers running the huge cases alleging major fraud and their willingness to settle for pennies on a dollar. Despite the protestations of the Chamber of Commerce and others there are still a lot of crooks doing business while hiding in publicly traded entities. These lawyers will take the settlement no matter how much proof they have. I was on the record objecting to this element of Milberg Weiss fraud almost a year before they were indicted. For a look at the last case settled by Milberg Weiss and some background on major players in the IPO Securities Litigation see http://www.stoplegalfiction.org

Leave a Reply