Lawsuit Funders Investigated by NY State, Florida

Jane Akre
September 12, 2018

Mesh Medical Device News Desk, September 11, 2018 ~ The topic of seeking funding for your mesh removal surgery is certainly a controversial one. While some believe all funders are bad, in some cases, they have provided the resources for a much-needed surgery when there are no other options.

On the other hand, be wary of unscrupulous profiteers who have entered this business.

You’ve heard the stories- women are told if they had an additional mesh removal surgery, they will get more money in their settlement. In some cases, the woman wanted a surgery anyway so the law firm arranges for a “funder” to cover the cost of the surgery, her travel, her stay in a hotel, sort of a “concierge” treatment.

None of this is free.

She is expected to pay, likely full retail, when she receives a settlement.

Now, the New York Times (here) reports federal prosecutors in Brooklyn are investigating the players in these alleged schemes for profit including doctors, lawyers, financiers and consultants.

The paper reports that prosecutors want to learn if the women were tricked into additional surgeries, which they call “unnecessary” and whether the doctors on the receiving end have enriched themselves improperly.

Hundreds of women may have been pressured to have these surgeries to win a larger cash settlement, the NYT reports. The surgeries were allegedly done at walk-in medical centers, often in Florida.

Prosecutors from the United States attorney’s office for the Eastern District of New York and the Florida AG’s office are reportedly looking into the matter.

(*Editor's Note* - Mesh News Desk, in talking to thousands of women, has never encountered a single one voicing a desire to increase her settlement by undergoing unnecessary pelvic mesh surgery.)

Shields and Frankel, Huff UK

LawCash, based in Brooklyn is one such firm being questioned. Its founder, Dennis Shields, 51, was recently found dead in his Trump Tower apartment, allegedly from a prescription pain drug overdose. His girlfriend was Bethany Frankel who appears on The Real Housewives of New York reality show on Bravo.

Jerri Plummer is one such alleged victim.

The Arkansas woman is suing LawCash and her law firm McSweeney Langevin Of Minnesota alleging she was scared into undergoing a surgery in another state. Read her April NYT story here.

The McSweeney Langevin law firm now has clients sign a waiver that they understand that cash advances or lawsuit surgical loans are “terrible loans with extremely high interest rates," here.


While the mesh scandal has received scant coverage in U.S. media, two media outlets Reuters, and New York Times have both covered the funding issue with a less than flattering portrayal of mesh-implanted women.

Some stories suggest the women were duped into the additional surgery, asking no questions, while other women are alleged to be seeking a financial windfall from their pending settlement. The value of a settlement rises with additional pelvic mesh removal surgeries.

It is a narrative that at least one medical society has promoted. AUGS (American Urogynecology Society) has highlighted the April New York Times story at least twice with the implication the woman may have been misled as to whether she needed to have her mesh removed. AUGS still insists that polypropylene mid-urethral slings are the "Gold Standard," and are safe and effective and should not need to be removed.

The medical society points (here) to an April NYT story (here) as favorable coverage since it indicates some of the surgeries may have been unnecessary and done strictly for gain.

Mesh News Desk reported in 2016 that the then AUGS president told the 1,700 members in attendance at its annual conference that trial lawyers were behind the promotion of mesh problems.


Lawsuit lender

Cash advance firms work in several ways.

Some lend a small amount of money to tide you over, to make a car payment, for example. Lawsuit Financial, of Detroit, for example, discourages large loans.

Others lenders pay the doctor for a surgery, usually at a discount rate. The win-win is that the doctor is paid immediately instead of waiting for years to receive reimbursement. When a case is finally settled, the funder is paid for the money it advanced for the surgery, generally at a higher rate. That's where the profit lies. There should be no interest rate accruing.

Finally, there are lenders who attach growing interest rates to a cash advance, easily multiplying what is owed many times over when it comes time to pay.


Red flag, WikiCommons

If a doctor or lawyer says “Don’t use Your Insurance” ask why not? Is there a good reason? Once insurance is involved, the profit incentive is eliminated so be very clear what the reason is for not using insurance.

You should be a strong advocate for your own health. Can you see any doctor you want? Check out the surgeon. How many mesh removals has he/she done? Does he say he can do a “complete” removal? (that may be difficult with some meshes). How does he know? Does he measure the mesh when it’s removed? Does he show it to you? Can you talk to others who have had surgery done by this doctor?

What is the going rate for your surgery? There is really no such thing since the government and insurance often receive a discount for comparable services but obtain a breakdown of the cost of the surgery and the concierge service. Is there a huge discrepancy between what you pay and the doctor is paid?

Does your doctor have a financial arrangement with the funder for sending you to there?

What happens if you lose your case? For funders who purchase the charges from the medical providers, there should be no fees or interest.

Bottom Line- Hang Up if someone is trying to solicit you to have surgery over the telephone!


MND, Lawsuit Financing: What to Know Before you Borrow, July 15, 2015

MND, AMS Alleges Scheme to Profit from Transvaginal Mesh Injuries, October 10, 2013

MND, Media Coverage Leaves Tainted Impression of Mesh Injury Surgeries and Medical Lien Companies, September 3, 2015

MND, AMS Granted Limited Discovery into Alleged “Scheme” in Transvaginal Mesh Litigation, October 13, 2013

New York Times, Hedge Funds Involved in Personal Injury Lawsuits, June 25, 2018

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