As he presides over seven Multi District Litigation cases in Charleston involving more than 80,000 claims against manufacturers of transvaginal surgical mesh, U.S. District Judge Joseph Goodwin might want to keep a close eye on one plaintiffs firm in particular.
That would be the AkinMears firm of Houston, Texas.
A distinct reputation might not have preceded their foray into West Virginia, but the details of their alleged standard operating procedures, as revealed in a now-sealed lawsuit filed by a former salesman in Harris County District Court in Texas, are noteworthy.
Amir Shenaq, the firm's former chief business development officer, is seeking millions of dollars in compensation he was allegedly promised but denied. In his complaint, he describes AkinMears as not so much a traditional law firm as a “mass tort warehouse” and a “glorified claims processing center.”
In other words, Shenaq says AkinMears is the type of lawsuit mill that preys on victims and abuses our legal system in pursuit of a fast buck.
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.
Rather than litigating or negotiating settlements, however, AkinMears often sells or resells the cases it has acquired, according to the suit.
AkinMears claims 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. Its real concern may have been to keep the true nature of its business practices concealed from judges and juries hearing its cases.
Such information could prejudice someone on the bench or in the jury box who has high ethical standards and respect for our legal system.
Judge Goodwin might want to uncover what AkinMears does not want the public to know.