Lawsuit Funders Investigated by NY State, Florida

//Lawsuit Funders Investigated by NY State, Florida

Lawsuit Funders Investigated by NY State, Florida

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 Post.co 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.

 

 

AUGS ADVANCES THE NARRATIVE OF GREEDY TRIAL LAWYERS

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.

 

HOW CASH ADVANCES WORKS

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.

 

CONSUMER ALERT- RED FLAGS

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!

 

LEARN MORE:

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  

 

 

By | 2018-09-12T11:58:42+00:00 September 12th, 2018|Featured|11 Comments

About the Author:

I’m National News Editor, Jane Akre and I began Mesh Medical Device News Desk aka Mesh News Desk (MND) in the summer of 2011 just after the Food and Drug Administration issued an explicit warning to the public that complications associated with surgical mesh used for prolapse repair (POP) and incontinence (SUI) are NOT rare! That was the starting point for the litigation you see today and thousands of lawsuits have been filed by women whose lives have been altered, some permanently, by the use of this petroleum-based product.

11 Comments

  1. Tammy September 12, 2018 at 6:48 am - Reply

    Great article Jane…thank you for your support

    • Jane Akre September 12, 2018 at 11:49 am - Reply

      I’m really unclear why the Times and Reuters finds this subject condemning profiteers more interesting than the mesh maker profiteers! What am I missing? Oh, we don’t want to mention JNJ, Boston Sci, AMS, CR Bard…..do you think they profited from women?

  2. Anonymous September 13, 2018 at 4:00 am - Reply

    After partial removal I borrowed 10k…in late 2015…now 3yrs later that is 40k…and continues to grow til settlment day. This was a pre-settlment LOAN with stated increwing interest rate in the contract. My attorney WARNED me I would regret this…I persuaded atty to sign off on this agreement I voluntarily sought out with a company in New York.

    • Jane Akre September 13, 2018 at 12:46 pm - Reply

      Wow- which company? Might as well name them.

    • Still Standing September 14, 2018 at 12:36 pm - Reply

      That is not right in any way. I think there lenders have really been unscrupulous in setting up the debt load for borrowers. That said, you did sign the note and your attorney advised you not to,do it, so,I don’t know how you get that resolved. I encourage you to read the link below and also report this firm to the regulatory agency in the state where they have their headquarters. Everyone who has been victimized by this should be reported.

  3. Never the same September 13, 2018 at 12:28 pm - Reply

    What about the attorneys who sold our cases multiple times, promised “you have a great case for court” and had no intention of going to court, but have no problem taking 40% and bullying clients into a settlement offer. There are many bad players in this game and the victims of mesh pay the price. Shame on them all.

    • Jane Akre September 13, 2018 at 12:44 pm - Reply

      Note to potential plaintiffs** If a lawyer says you have a million dollar case- Find the nearest door and make a swift exit. You are being sold!

  4. Advocate September 14, 2018 at 7:00 pm - Reply

    Lot’s of blame to go around. There have been attorney’s who have taken more cases than they could ever hope to represent effectively. There have been Doctors who wanted to do as many surgeries as they humanly could, because surgical procedures meant income. There were companies who fronted money because they saw an ability to get more money into the field of play and they did it at interest rates that are high but not usury. (I’ll digress here for a moment… speculative investments like giving money to a client for a case that doesn’t have a guaranteed return, are always at a higher interest rate than a credit card or finance loan. They didn’t consider anyone’s credit history or income potential for repayment. On top of it, they said if you don’t recover, you don’t have to pay it back. Those features justify the high rates. That’s not to say a prospective client should take it, but everyone must decided for themselves.) And finally, there were mesh women who signed up, that were not experiencing problems but wanted a piece of the money train. Not one participant group is without blame. Don’t have to like it but you can’t change those facts.
    Now all of those bad apples were next to zero in the percentage of people who were in the litigation for the right reason. Defense will always look for a weak link to exploit for their needs. Funding of surgical necessity was just easy to sensationalize. Finding disgruntled women with surgical intervention was also low hanging fruit. The cause of depression, pain, and just plain exhaustion with the process, makes for easy sound bytes like “I was scared into the surgery”, when in most cases there was no fear.
    Thank you Jane for seeing beyond the intent of those articles to deflect from what the real story should be about. The injuries and lives these women are forced to lead, due to the act of “business”, is the real point that just doesn’t seem to be sexy or dirty enough to matter. It’s difficult to understand when you’re the injured party of any kind of tort action, but law is a business, medicine is a business, money lending is a business. None of it is personal enough, straight forward enough or clean enough. Life is complicated when we have expectations grounded in the idea of right and wrong, and then find out even that has a price.

    • Jane Akre September 15, 2018 at 12:43 pm - Reply

      Thank you. I continue to be amazed and disappointed in the mainstream media which I was once part of. Why do they not see this as the major women’s health and men’s health story that it is? getting diverted on these titillating story of bad lawyers and bad money lenders comports nicely with the tort reform movement but hey- New York Times- don’t you see the big story? Who are the profiteers here?

  5. M September 17, 2018 at 4:21 pm - Reply

    The Jerri Plummer experience is just another ugly aspect of this horrible procrastinating MDL. Clearly this mesh victim was taken advantage of, preyed upon and criminally exploited by greedy crooks (Doctors, Attorneys) included…. their sole objective, purpose, intent, plan was to take advantage of vulnerable ones caught up in this unfortunate ordeal. When will our Criminal Justice System take notice?

    • Jane Akre September 17, 2018 at 4:30 pm - Reply

      A reminder that women need to be aware and ask questions. Do not take a phone call from someone who says you need surgery!!!

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