BROOKLYN, N.Y. (Legal Newsline) - A New York pre-settlement finance company has filed a lawsuit in federal court against a Florida law firm, attorney and various other defendants for their roles in a “fraudulent scheme” that has left the company out thousands of dollars.
Funding Holding Inc., doing business as Law Cash, filed its lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York Jan. 18.
Attorney Gabriel Jose Carrera, the Law Office of Gabriel Jose Carrera in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and more than 20 individuals -- all residents of Florida -- were listed as defendants on the 37-page complaint.
John Does 1-10, described as “fictitious individuals who are currently unknown that participated in the fraudulent scheme, and ABC Corps. 1-100, “fictitious corporate or business entities who are currently unknown that participated in the fraudulent scheme,” also were listed as defendants.
Among those non-parties mentioned in the complaint: Wells Fargo Bank Inc., Republic Bank & Trust Company and various hospitals and spine specialists.
“As a direct and proximate result of the Defendants actions, Plaintiff has suffered, and will continue to suffer, substantial monetary damages,” Law Cash wrote in its complaint.
Law Cash, in its lawsuit, describes itself as a pre-settlement finance company, providing financial assistance to individuals who need immediate funding to meet personal financial obligations -- including basic necessities of life such as food, clothing and rent -- before and after their legal claims have been filed.
“By providing such funds, Law Cash helps to level the playing field in many cases where cash-strapped plaintiffs would otherwise be forced to accept inadequate and unfair settlement offers made by large companies that have the resources to out-litigate and ultimately out-last individual victims of their or their insured’s tortious conduct,” the company wrote.
In return for its funding, Law Cash is assigned a contingent interest in the potential post-judgment proceeds of the plaintiff’s case.
“These transactions are not loans; they are non-recourse,” the company explained. “If the plaintiff fails to recover, Law Cash receives nothing in return for its funding (thus distinguishing the funding from a traditional loan which requires repayment no matter what).”
But if a plaintiff recovers on his or her claim, Law Cash receives a return on its funding.
“For plaintiffs who become involved in costly and protracted litigation, who generally are of more modest financial means than their adversaries, a pre-settlement funding often represents the only viable source of potential funding to meet daily expenses,” the company explained. “Banks cannot and do not offer loans to individuals who lack collateral.”
In this case, Law Cash provided such funding -- in the form of $5,000 or $6,000 checks -- to various clients of Carrera through his office manager, Patricia Godinez. Or, so the company thought.
In September, Carrera called Andy Fisher, a Law Cash sales representative. Carrera allegedly told Fisher another funding company had contacted him to obtain a status update on a lawsuit involving a funding agreement client. But Carrera said he didn’t know who the client was, it is alleged.
Carrera told Fisher he searched Godinez’s work computer for any information about the unknown client, the complaint says. It was then he discovered the communications between her and Fisher regarding the funding agreements, it says.
Carrera told Fisher he had no idea who these clients who received funding from Law Cash were, it is alleged.
After the conversation, Fisher said he reviewed the agreements for any indications of fraud. He noticed the same notary, defendant Vladimir Lalbhadoorsingh, notarized the signature for each of the client defendants.
Fisher had assumed -- prior to the call from Carrera -- that Lalbhadoorsingh was an employee of the law firm because of the “expedited execution” of the funding agreements.
Carrera confirmed, in a follow-up phone conversation, that Lalbhadoorsingh was not an employee of his firm, it is alleged.
In addition, Fisher attempted to call the personal injury victims who had sent Fisher additional copies of their driver’s license. His calls, which previously were answered, were now directly forwarded to a voicemail that stated the numbers he was trying to reach were no longer in operation, it is alleged.
According to Law Cash’s complaint, the company has not received any communications from any of the defendants or any of their agents or employees since Sept. 16 -- despite multiple attempts by the company.
“Neither Gabriel Carrera nor any of his agents or employees of the Carrera Law Office have taken any action to reimburse Law Cash for the fraudulent scheme that was perpetrated out of the Carrera Law Office,” Law Cash wrote in its complaint, noting that several of the medical service providers listed in the portfolios sent to the company, in exchange for its funding, appear to be fictitious as there is no record of them existing in Florida.
Law Cash contends the money provided to the client defendants were to be placed in a specific, identifiable fund, and were subject to an “obligation to return or otherwise treat in a particular manner.”
“Defendants Patricia Godinez, Gabriel Carrera, the Carrera Law Office, the Dummy Client Defendants, and Vladimir Lalbhadoorsingh benefited by receiving a monetary advance from Plaintiff and treated the money received in connection with the Fraudulent Portfolios as their own, thereby depriving Plaintiff, the rightful owner of the property, from its use and enjoyment,” the company wrote.
Law Cash seeks compensatory damages, statutory damages, punitive damages, prejudgment
interests and costs of the lawsuit, including recovery of attorneys’ fees.
Attorney Robert Solomon of Callagy Law PC in Paramus, N.J., is representing the company.
Judge Allyne R. Ross has been assigned the case.
From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.