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Need Help: Mass Tort - Fraud - Lawyer Liable

Discussion in 'Other Legal Issues' started by NeedHelp2019, Jul 2, 2019.

  1. NeedHelp2019

    NeedHelp2019 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Jurisdiction:
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    Hello,

    Thanks for taking the time to read this.

    I'm at my wits end, I've reached out to 43 law firms, and so far I haven't found anyone able to take this case. I contacted the Utah Bar, and the woman told me to check the yellow pages. I would really appreciate being pointed in the right direction for this!

    I'd use the free case review, but I didn't see the right options.

    The Case: In brief, me and 30+ other individuals were defrauded. Damages $600k+. Me and one other have about $340k of those damages. I'm looking to bring a class action, against the individual who defrauded us, and also his lawyer who made himself liable for his clients actions.

    The lawyer is part of a large firm, that should hopefully settle out before it goes to trial, because of how grossly negligent (if not worse) the lawyer has been. And he continues to support and give legitimacy to his client, despite knowing the fraud has occurred.

    This is multi-state, but the lawyer is based in Utah. So I used Utah as the Jurisdiction.

    Edit: The individual to my knowledge, has no money. He spent everything we gave him, but not on the purpose it was given for. Hence why the focus is the lawyer's liability insurance.

    Hopefully that's enough information? I didn't want to get too exact, to keep this confidential.

    I have the evidence proving fraud and a very strong case proving the lawyer's liability. I just now need to find a law firm to take this on and make it right for us.

    Any help, would be greatly appreciated.
     
  2. Tax Counsel

    Tax Counsel Well-Known Member

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    And just how would the lawyer be liable for the client's alleged fraud? It takes more than just being the guy's lawyer, after all.

    It is not clear that the case would meet the requirement of the class action rule, at least in federal court. The Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law has a pretty good summary of the federal class action rule. You may also want to look at the ABA Section of Litigation CLE on the subject, too.

    For starters, you say that there are approximately 30 people in the proposed class. That may not be enough to big enough for a class action claim. The other facts involved will matter greatly as to whether the court would say 30 is enough in this instance.

    It is not clear how similar (typical) your case (if you were to be the named plaintiff in the suit) is to the other victims. Would the facts of your fraud claim match the facts of the other victims? Already I know one fact is very different: the amount of damages each suffered.

    I'll not go through each of the requirements here since there is not nearly enough information in your post to discuss each one. But what you'll hopefully see when you read the articles I linked is that class action cases are not all that easy to bring and are complex to litigate. Because of that the attorney's fees tend to be quite large in these cases.

    What did the law firms who declined to take the case say as the reason for not taking it? Getting rejected by 43 firms is not a sign of a very promising case. Did you ask any of the lawyers if they would take your case on as a stand alone case rather than as a class action?

    Note something important. Malpractice insurance that lawyers carry cover acts of negligence in their representation of their clients. So if their client sues for malpractice the insurance generally covers that. But your suit is not a malpractice claim if my assumption that you were not also a client of this lawyer in these transactions is correct. Your claim sounds like a just a regular fraud claim against the attorney. Thus, the lawyer's malpractice insurance may not cover claims that you have. One would need to read the terms of the policy to know. The lawyer might carry some other kind of liability insurance, but there is no requirement the attorney do that. Even if the lawyer did, it is very common for any sort of liability policy (including the malpractice insurance) to exclude from coverage intentional acts and crimes committed by the insured (the lawyer). You are alleging fraud, which is both an intentional tort and a criminal act. Chances are that if you win on a fraud claim the insurance policy would not cover it. So do you know what assets the lawyer himself has? That may turn out to be very important in deciding if it is worthwhile to sue or how far to go with the claim if you do sue.
     
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  3. NeedHelp2019

    NeedHelp2019 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Thanks for the reply.

    I'm not trying to go too deeply in to details, but the lawyer created a legal entity that his client used for fraud. He gave his client legitimacy, and represented that we should give money to his client. He had money sent to his client trust account first, then released it to the legal entity knowing it had no finical oversight or governance or board and that his client couldn't be trusted with money. I know still vague, but I have another lawyer who can provide a witness statement that this lawyer made himself liable. She unfortunately can't take the case due to a conflict of interest.

    I don't think the lawyer intended to commit fraud, but he was negligent with his client, but this is the first I heard that the liability insurance may not even cover it... so thank you for that.

    The hope is / was that the law firm would settle it out of court, because they are a large firm with a very good reputation. And if I gave the full details, I think you'd agree it would look horrible for them.

    Some of the reasons it got turned down; Conflict of interest, Not their area, Only do defense work, Only work with bank / companies, too complex, or no reply at all.

    This is also the first I heard it may not qualify as a class action, I got encouraged by some of the lawyers to bring this as a class action. But I hadn't asked if anyone would take it as stand alone, but I had friends screwed too, so I'd want to have them included regardless... if just some individuals, stand alone.. if that works.

    That's for your feedback.
     
  4. Tax Counsel

    Tax Counsel Well-Known Member

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    Lawyers create entities like corporations, LLCs, etc, every day, and some of those entities do get used for fraud or other crimes committed by the client later. The lawyer is not responsible for that just because he created the entity the client used.

    One should take care never to assume that just because a person's lawyer seems good that the person himself is good. The lawyer works for the client and is supposed to (within the bounds of the law and the rules of professional conduct) advance his client's interests. You certainly should not assume that someone's lawyer is a neutral party. While representing that client the lawyer is NOT neutral. He or she is advancing the client's interests.

    The money being sent to the lawyer's client trust accounts simply means that the money is put there until the lawyer can disburse the funds either for legitimate fees and expenses owed the lawyer or for the needs of the client. Don't confuse that with an escrow account or a trust account for the benefit of the investors (or whatever your role was in these transactions.

    The lawyer represented the client. In that role, most of the lawyer's duties run only to the client, not to third parties that the client deals with, other than a general duty of honesty in the lawyer's own dealings with third parties. If the lawyer was not an actual party to the fraud, then the issue will be finding what duty the lawyer owed to YOU that the lawyer breached.

    The lawyer who opined that the lawyer was potentially liable gave you an opinion. A witness statement would be a statement from someone who had first hand knowledge of the facts involved, i.e. saw and heard herself what had happened in these deals. My guess is that the lawyer you consulted did not witness with her own eyes and ears what was said and done in the alleged fraud. But if she did, that would be another reason why she would need to decline taking the case.

    I suggest going to a civil litigation lawyer and first just ask about your own case and what the merits are and see if you have a good claim to pursue. If you do and the attorney is willing to take the case then you might ask about what the others can do and whether it might be worth pursuing as a class action.
     
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  5. NeedHelp2019

    NeedHelp2019 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    I apologize if I wasn't clear, this lawyer IS a witness. It isn't an opinion. The lawyer did not uphold himself professionally.

    I understand, you're trying to help, but you're responding to vague details. I didn't want to get too detailed. I just wanted help finding someone to take this case...

    I'll change my efforts more for a civil litigation lawyer instead of a tort lawyer though. Thank you for that.
     
  6. zddoodah

    zddoodah Well-Known Member

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    Able? Or willing?

    Why would you want to "bring a class action," and why would you think a class action would even be appropriate given the relatively small number of persons involved?

    Here's the information you provided:

    1. You claim you were defrauded to the tune of >$340k but told us no facts relevant to the claim.
    2. You told us that the person who allegedly defrauded you was represented by counsel but you told us nothing about why that representation is relevant to the alleged fraud.
    3. You told us that the person allegedly defrauded a couple dozen other persons, but you didn't tell us anything about whether or how their situations are similar to yours.

    That's pretty well no useful information.

    Not sure what you expect anyone here to say. The only conclusion that can be validly reached from the fact that you "reached out to 43 law firms" and couldn't find anyone to take your case is that you don't have a good case (either that of you're reaching out to the wrong types of firms or are doing a bad job explaining your case). The scant information in your post also suggests no basis for your case being handled as a class action.

    The first element of a negligence claim is that the defendant owed a duty to the plaintiff, but a lawyer rarely owes a duty to anyone other than his/her client.

    Liability insurance may cover negligent acts but won't cover intentional acts.

    I agree that you should approach this as you seeking a lawyer to represent yourself, without regard to anyone else who might be in a similar position.
     
  7. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    Sounds like the person who was a victim of a check forger and wants to go after the bank because the check forger is broke or in the wind and the bank (though not liable) is right there and has lots of money.

    Good luck with that.
     
  8. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    The right direction should be as clear to you, as it is to me.

    You were cheated, scammed, defrauded out of over $300K.

    The scammer is alleged to have spent the loot you and a couple dozen others fed him, and you want everyone to get it back.

    Not going to happen, no way, no how; using the legal system.

    There are ways, ILLEGAL ways, people employ to exact revenge and get what they lost.

    Outside of breaking the law to exact revenge, Jody done took the loot and got away with it.

    The lesson here is NEVER give your money to anyone for any reason.

    Think about it, boss, you dropped 1/3 of one billion US dollars because a scammer used some words that drew you into his web of lies.

    As all referees admonish amateur and professional boxers, "protect yourself at all times".

    Finally, if 40 plus established law firms have told you they possess no interests in representing you, give it up.

    Paraphrasing SSG Leyba (my army drill sergeant), "Jody the Jawscammer done got your loot and gone, your left, your right, your left left, your right, sound off, bring it on down, gimme your left, your right, left, right, left, right".
     
  9. NeedHelp2019

    NeedHelp2019 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Wow, it feels like you are mocking. Wasn't expecting such harsh responses here.

    Like I had already said, I was being vague with the details. The lawyer knew his client had a case open with the FBI for a pattern of fraudulent behavior. Yet was telling people giving his client money was a good investment. And there is a lawyer witness to him being liable for this, as I already mentioned.

    I'm not looking to argue the merits of the case, which I don't understand why people are trying to argue that, when I was being vague. Would it help if I just started a new thread with more exact details?

    To the helpful person who asked, the 30+ people were defrauded in the same way (either through investment or promise for work being done).

    Another issue, seemed to be, and I forgot to mention this in the OP (I apologize) is it seemed (and some said this) that law firms weren't interested in the case, because they didn't want to name another law firm in a lawsuit.

    So, maybe reaching out to firms that handle legal malpractice may be a better idea (since they have experience naming other law firms in lawsuits) and those most hurt (10 of us) just do a suit together, and not be a class action?
     
  10. PayrollHRGuy

    PayrollHRGuy Well-Known Member

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    There is no such thing as a "witness to being liable". A lawyer may be a witness to his actions and he may think he is liable but a court is where liability is set. And just because he is a lawyer doesn't make him any better a witness.
     
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  11. NeedHelp2019

    NeedHelp2019 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Wow... thanks, just keep picking part what I say instead of providing useful information...

    "She was witness to his actions, that could help prove in court that he was liable" Better?
     
  12. PayrollHRGuy

    PayrollHRGuy Well-Known Member

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    Ignorance is never a good thing. Ignorance dealing with something like you are dealing with is really a bad thing. I was just trying to help you rid yourself of a little of that ignorance.

    P.S. That was my first and this is likely last post to this thread.
     
  13. zddoodah

    zddoodah Well-Known Member

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    First you say, "the same way," and then you describe two different ways.

    We can't tell you what an appropriate approach might be without having a good understanding of the relevant facts. While I can understand your desire not to post details, you have to understand that taking that approach limits the sort of feedback we can provide. That said, nothing whatsoever you've posted indicates that a class action would be either appropriate or beneficial to you.

    No. However, if you have a question that hasn't been answered, please clarify what you're seeking.
     
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  14. Tax Counsel

    Tax Counsel Well-Known Member

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    I guess that means giving money to the supermarket to buy food is out. I suppose I need start farming on my small balcony and hope that can provide me enough food. Oh wait, can't do that because I can't give money to the landlord for rent either. I guess I'll just have to be homeless then since I can't ever give money to anyone for any reason. :rolleyes:
     
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  15. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    Don't get all riled up, mate.

    The written word complicates an already complex communication dialogue.

    the communication effort becomes even harder when the legalese is blended into the makings.

    You're doing okay, but you need to know, the less accurate you can be, the more "general" the answers you'll receive.

    Bottom line, start talking to more attorneys.

    Provide each of them with all of the documentation you possess.

    Don't worry about confidentiality, all your initial communications are shielded by the lawyer-client protections afforded to all of us by our system of jurisprudence and our constitution.

    You should also create a list of briefing points to stimulate the conversation.

    If there is a there "there", you'll find your champion(s) to battle with the scammer.

    In the interim, hire yourself a great PI to investigate what assets the scammer still possesses and where they are hidden.

    What the PI uncovers will drive how hard you pursue the crook.

    If he's down to a few thousand, even when the there "there" is revealed, there's nothing against which you can recover.

    Good luck.
     
  16. NeedHelp2019

    NeedHelp2019 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Thank you all, I apologize, I did get a bit riled up.

    To be a bit more detailed:
    • Lawyer has worked with this client for about 5 years.
    • Client came here, offering an investment that would help "save the world" while also creating passive income. (Still vague, I know)
    • Lawyer knows the FBI has an open case on his client for fraudulent behavior.
    • Lawyer created a Co-Op, to act as a safe harbor from the SEC (the item creating passive income were going to be considered a security).
    • Lawyer was aware his client had taken money from other groups of people, resulting in zero results / creation of what money was given for (and left those people high and dry).
    • Lawyer told us, that this was a good investment, and to send the money to his client trust account.
    • Lawyer represented to me in email that the Co-Op had a board and members.
    • Co-Op actually had no board, no oversight, and his client was running it like a sole member LLC. Spending money that way too, which included personal experiences.
    • His client began working with another lawyer, who was working on setting up corporate governance for some Corporations to work with the Co-Op. She was working closely with this guy's lawyer, so can provide some really good insight on how she believes he was liable as a witness.
    • While this guy was directing the lawyers to continue to tell people to invest, the new lawyer was refusing until all corporate governance and financial oversight was in place. His lawyer continued to support telling people to put in more money (at this stage, his client had blown through $200k+ with none of it going to it's intended purpose).
    • I have bank records, internal documents, emails, texts, etc. and can show fraud happened.
    • After his lawyer was informed the fraud happened (by the other lawyer, who immediately resigned), his lawyer tried to silence me from warning other people about the fraud with a C&D and has continued to represent that the whole project is going to work.
    • In the ledger for the lawyer's client trust account, $49,000 of the money for this project was not sent to the Co-Op, but somewhere else and to my knowledge, disappeared.
    To my knowledge, the fraudster spent all the money besides the missing $49,000 from the client trust account.

    I said we all got defrauded in the same way, because we were either investing to make this project work or were working on the promise of payment to make the project work. I apologize if those two can't be grouped together for a class action.

    I know still a bit general... but hopefully more specific? There is a lot more, I could have posted. I do have it all written up, to provide to a lawyer / law firm. Time line included. I did eventually work for him, hence eventually getting all the internal documents, etc. I resigned after I discovered the fraud.

    I wanted to do a class action or some large group, for every damaged person, because I'm the only one with all the evidence that proves fraud happened. I of course could share it with other damaged parties, but I don't want to do anything until I've got a lawyer guiding me to what is best.

    Having said all this... would it be better to just focus on the damaged parties in my state? There is about 11 of us, and look for a lawyer to bring the lawsuit on our behalf and not as a class action? That might make it simpler.

    Open to other suggestions, if I shared enough information this time.

    Edit: Also, there was a background report on the guy, I later learned about and he already has large judgement against him. So it's very unlikely going after him, will result in any losses being recovered. That's why it seems his lawyer's possible liability is our best chance.
     

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