EMS helicopter crash cases aren’t easy. A lawyer representing a victim’s family ought to have experience in helicopter crash cases. If he doesn’t, he should bring into the case a lawyer who does. What he should not do, obviously, is make up for lack of experience by bribing the judge.
It’s shocking to think that a lawyer would ever bribe a judge. But that’s what Texas lawyers Jim Solis and Marc Rosenthal did. The judge admits it. So does Solis. They bribed the judge for favorable pre-trial rulings, and then, after getting those rulings, they settled the helicopter crash case, obtaining $15 million for the families involved. Out of the settlement, the attorneys ended up with a $5.2 million fee.
Now the attorneys are being sued by their clients. The clients want that $5.2 million back. According to the lawsuit:
Plaintiffs are innocent and without prior knowledge of Defendants’ criminal acts. Not only did Defendant breach their fiduciary duties to their clients, but in doing so they dishonored the memories of Michael T. Sanchez and Raul Garcia.
Under the law of many states, a lawyer who violates legal or ethical rules can be required to forfeit his or her fee.
But even if legally entitled to the fee, are plaintiffs morally entitled to it? After all, how were the families harmed by the lawyers’ scheme? The families ended up with a settlement which, presumably, they found acceptable.
Families who lose loved ones in a helicopter or other crash sue for money. No doubt about that. But perhaps more importantly, victims’ families sue for justice. They pay their attorneys to expose wrongdoing and hold accountable those responsible for an accident. Putting aside all else, the attorneys in this case simply didn’t do that job. The Sanchez and Garcia families did not get what they paid for.
The case is Sanchez v. Rosenthal et al.