Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Council member gambles on lawsuits

From the NY Post:

City Councilman Lewis Fidler gets a $60,000-plus salary from a company that helped finance the lawsuit by police gunshot victim Sean Bell and other major cases against the NYPD.

The Brooklyn Democrat moonlights as the chief lawyer for LawCash, a company that gambles on the outcome of court cases -- including headline-grabbing police-brutality suits -- by giving money to cash-strapped plaintiffs who could hit legal pay dirt.

The company quietly gave money to Joseph Guzman -- who was shot 16 times in the 50-bullet barrage that killed Sean Bell, a source said. It was a savvy business investment: Guzman won a $3 million settlement from the city last month.

LawCash is "involved in many police-brutality cases filed against the city," said Bell family lawyer Sandy Rubenstein, who represents victims in the 2006 shooting case, as well as the woman Bell was to marry the day he died, Nicole Paultré-Bell.

Another LawCash client was NYPD torture victim Abner Louima, who won an $8.7 million settlement in 2001 against the city.

Fidler said he makes somewhere between $60,000 and $80,000 as LawCash's general counsel -- on top of the $127,500 he makes as a council member.

The firm generally advances a few thousand dollars to plaintiffs at interest rates of 2 to 4 percent a month. If the case loses, they get nothing back. If the case wins, they get principal plus interest, which can exceed 25 percent.

Fidler says there is no conflict of interest in his firm's going against the city in court.

"There is no contact with the city of New York," Fidler said of his part-time job. "What possible conflict would there be, as I do no business with the city?"

But the City Council sometimes sits in judgment of the same cases that LawCash invests in.


Anonymous said...


Ned Berke | Sheepshead Bites said...

He wrote a response to this, posted at Sheepshead Bites.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...