New York Personal Injury Law Blog » Ambulance Chasing, Attorney Ethics


July 9th, 2007

A Guilty Plea at Milberg, Weiss & Bershad For Ambulance Chasing

This isn’t about New York personal injury law, but is related in a fashion. Related because it is the personal injury attorneys who are usually accused of ambulance chasing.

But high-powered class action law firm Milberg Weiss & Bershad is not only accused of paying money to obtain clients, most certainly a form of ambulance chasing, but named partner David Bershad has now plead guilty to conspiracy to obstruct justice. This investigation has been going for six years.

Byron Stier at the Mass Torts Litigation Blog has this excerpt:

According to a person familiar with the situation, Bershad‘s plea will relate to the core allegations of the indictment: misleading judges into believing that plaintiffs were being paid by Milberg Weiss, when in fact the firm was paying them. A “factual statement” accompanying the plea is also expected to unveil new details of the government’s allegations against the still unindicted “Partner A” and “Partner B,” who are widely assumed to be, respectively, name partner Melvyn Weiss and former name partner William Lerach. Lerach and the San Diego-based west coast office of Milberg Weiss split away from Milberg Weiss in 2004 to found Lerach Coughlin Stoia Geller Rudman & Robbins.

So what punishment awaits Bershad (whose archived biography from Milberg Weiss can be found here)? According to the Wall Street Journal:

He said in court papers that he and others agreed to conceal from judges secret payment arrangements that the firm had with named plaintiffs in class actions. He will forfeit $7.75 million and pay a $250,000 fine. He could face as much as five years in prison; how much time if any he serves may depend in part on his cooperation, the plea agreement says.

So, do you think those who thought Scooter Libby’s obstruction of justice sentence too harsh will be starting a campaign for commutation of Bershad’s eventual jail sentence?

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(Eric Turkewitz is a personal injury attorney in New York)

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