Tulsa settlement planner Robert Risk's February 13th "man of class and grace", disgraced class action lawyer William Lerach, reports to Federal Prison on May 19, 2008 after pleading guilty to charges of criminal conspiracy in conjunction with a class action scheme. Two Republican members of the House of Representatives, John Boehner (R-OH) and Lamar Smith (R-TX) recently suggested that Congress has ignored the steadily unfolding scandal and call for a hearing.
"If in fact the crimes committed by Mr. Lerach and his colleagues are an 'industry practice' as Mr. Lerach himself confessed, then the United States Congress is sitting idle while criminal behavior in the trial lawyer industry threatens American jobs and feeds like a parasite on the prosperity of working families" Boehner stated in a letter to House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers (D-MI) dated May 2, 2008.
Are we shortly going to see people start defending the payment of kickbacks as "helping consumers"?
There is an interesting social debate here. On the one hand it is argued that the kickbacks made by Lerach and others, purportedly help consumers. Some argue that without the payoff it wouldn't be worth a lead plaintiff's time; that the consumer helping class action suits couldn't be launched and the legal work done helps consumers. The flip side of the debate says that the kickbacks cost American companies money, results in shutting companies down or forces them outside the United States; the resulting loss of American jobs or other incremental costs ultimately hurts American consumers.