This blog post first appeared Aug. 23 on the Merlin Law Group website.
I have written about the problem of the Voss Law Firm before in Policyholders Should Carefully Pick Their Lawyers — Voss Law Firm Loses Hundreds of Hurricane Lawsuits, and Is the Use of Runners and Cappers in Texas Going to Result in Prosecution of Lawyers and Public Adjusters. The problem with Voss is that they are a providing bad publicity for policyholders and honest policyholder attorneys fighting a very well-funded litigation and lobbying adversary: The insurance industry. A federal court judge found that the Voss Law Firm engaged in intentional litigation misconduct, fraud, and had shown a pattern and practice of deficient representation.
The Voss firm has been a disgrace and embarrassment to lawyers because those lawyers at Voss tarnish the reputation of all attorneys when they conduct themselves unethically. The public loses confidence in attorneys when some intentionally thumb their nose at rules and flagrantly violate standards. The public loses faith in the profession, and insurance company adjusters become more skeptical.
I understand colleagues making a mistake in judgment and an error. Nobody is perfect, and the ethical situations lawyers face are numerous. We are constantly checking with our managing attorneys and with outside ethics specialists. It is not easy being a great litigator because every case poses thousands of little issues where a lack of clear thinking or attention to detail can result in a bad mistake.
However, an ethics specialist is not needed to figure out that attorneys cannot pay public adjusters money to get cases, forge client’s signatures, not tell your clients that lawsuits are being filed on their behalf, not tell clients that appraisals are being demanded, not tell the truth to judges, conduct repeated instances of shoddy litigation in New Jersey, New York, and Texas, and have dozens of insurance defense attorneys claim sanctions for fees and costs their insurer clients suffered and leave hundreds of policyholders with ineffective assistance of counsel. The attorneys at Voss have been involved in one or more of these activities in three states I have an active practice.
Chances are the insurance industry is going to use this federal decision as another example of “litigation reform” needing to be made with more insurance laws passed helping them and harming the public. Once again, policyholders, consumers, and the public with disputes get harmed by insurance industry propaganda caused by the bad actions of a few. The insurance companies’ bad actions are diverted as attention is focused on an outrageous example of unethical lawyer misconduct.
Hurricane Katrina had a significant amount of insurance company misconduct with altered engineering reports. Many forgot about that as the attention was diverted to prominent Mississippi lawyer Dickie Scruggs being found guilty of trying to bribe a judge.
Hopefully, this will not happen in Texas. We will have enough problems coping with the new Texas property insurance claims laws effective September 1, as discussed by Rene Sigman in The Truth About “The Hail Bill” That Messes with Texas.