The public has every right to watch the details unfold in a recent lawsuit, now unfortunately sealed, against the AkinMears law firm – a suit brought by a former employee that contains serious allegations about its operation.
In a suit filed in Harris County District Court against his former employer, AkinMears, and its principals, Truett Akin IV and Michelle Mears, seeking millions of dollars in compensation he was allegedly promised but denied, Amir Shenaq alleges that the Houston law firm is a “mass tort warehouse” and a “glorified claims processing center.”
In the now-sealed suit, Shenaq alleges that AkinMears borrowed enormous amounts of money to spend on client recruitment efforts that included massive television advertising campaigns directed at mesothelioma victims and persons injured by medical products such as transvaginal mesh or certain prescription drugs. He claims AkinMears allegedly purchased existing mass tort suits from other firms, as well.
Shenaq alleges he was in charge of the latter effort, at one point allegedly securing 14,000 transvaginal mesh cases from Alpha Law for $45 million.
Rather than litigating or negotiating settlements, however, AkinMears simply sells or resells the cases it has acquired, according to the suit.
AkinMears said that it sought to have Shenaq's petition sealed because it revealed valuable “trade secrets,” and details of its “business model” that could prove useful to competitors.
If the allegations were proved correct, it could reveal, however, that AkinMears is what the ex-employee claims: a “mass tort warehouse” and a “glorified claims processing center,” the type of lawsuit mill that preys on victims and abuses our legal system in pursuit of a fast buck.
It's not surprising that a firm would want to conceal the details of its operations from the public. But the court should not permit secrecy to trump the public’s interest in this type of business. An upcoming Nov. 6 hearing will give the court an important opportunity to lift the current seal.
We hope the judge brings this case into the public light so the public can evaluate what’s going on in these types of cases.
If the allegations in the suit stand up in court, Truett Akin IV and Michelle Mears do not need to worry about protecting the proprietary details of their “business model” from jealous competitors. What responsible law firm would be interested in copying them?