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Thursday, September 03, 2009

It's Never About the Money

Often during the course of civil justice reform debates, trial lawyers – or ambulance chasers, as they’re often known – portray themselves as nothing more than well-paid advocates, trying to bring about justice for those marginalized by some careless corporate entity.  They will insist that it’s not about the money they receive after winning seven and eight figure awards for their clients, who may or may not have suffered actual harm.  It’s about doing the right thing for others. 

One trial attorney was recently cited for his blatant doublespeak.  Richard J. Weiner, of Montvale, New Jersey, recently settled a civil action presented by the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of New York.   He admitted to soliciting families of victims from February’s deadly Colgan Air Flight 3407 plane crash in Buffalo before even 45 days had elapsed.  Federal law prohibits lawyers from making unsolicited contact with victims or their families within 45 days of an air carrier accident.  Common decency does the same thing.

Gary Halbert, the agency's general counsel, said that the 45-day rule is needed to prevent victims from being taken advantage of during a period of intense vulnerability.  Halbert also argued that “It’s during this time of an extreme emotional distress that the family members should avoid being deluged and distracted.”   

50 lives were lost on February 12th.  Would it have greatly inconvenienced Mr. Weiner to wait a few weeks before he tried to pad his bottom line – excuse me – advocate?

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