Louisiana Personal Injury Attorney Pleads Guilty in Staged Truck Accident Scheme
(July 2021) – A New Orleans personal injury attorney was charged with phone and mail fraud by a grand jury in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana on November 5, 2020 based on his alleged role in filing lawsuits and obtaining settlements in the Connection with staged accidents. In the indictment, the grand jury accuses the lawyer of conspiring with a “slammer” and a “spotter” to stage at least 31 accidents. The indictment details five accidents that occurred in May and June 2017.
According to the indictment, the attorney agreed to pay the chief slammer and spotter $ 1,000 per passenger for semi-trailer accidents and $ 500 per passenger for non-semi-trailer accidents, and the two discussed changing and varying the locations of the accident Number of passengers. The slammer and spotter were supposed to dodge cameras and speak to the police. In addition, the attorney allegedly granted credit to clients, misrepresented them in court proceedings, and referred them to specific medical providers for treatment. The lawyer is said to have told his clients that they would receive more money than a settlement if they received medical treatment, including operations. The plan allegedly involved 77 plaintiffs out of 31 accidents. Settlements totaling approximately $ 1.5 million were reached in 17 of the accidents, resulting in approximately $ 358,000 in legal fees.
Attorney Daniel Patrick Keating Jr. pleaded guilty at the hearing before Chief Judge Nanette Jolivette Brown on June 17, 2021. The spotter in this case was sentenced to 21 months in prison this January after pleading guilty. The slammer and other participants have also pleaded guilty in separate cases.
A total of 33 people in the district were charged with similar or related schemes; one of them was shot dead in his home shortly after his indictment. It was reported on site that he is likely to be cooperating with federal investigators. A New Orleans couple who staged an accident with a semi-trailer were sentenced to four years in prison and three years of supervised release by US District Judge Ivan LR Lemelle on June 30, 2021. In addition, the couple and their co-conspirators were sentenced to more than $ 5 million in damages, including forfeiture of settlement amounts and legal fees incurred by the shipping company.
At least two road transport companies have filed RICO lawsuits against law firms in Louisiana in connection with these accident schemes. Hauliers and their drivers should be on the lookout for suspicious activity immediately after accidents involving change of position or driving away of vehicle occupants encountering their trucks. In the meantime, we will continue to monitor this ongoing situation and look out for client matters affecting these actors, particularly the lawyers and healthcare providers involved.