Michael Wolf, a Montgomery County attorney, has been charged as part of a large insurance fraud scheme, in which a police officer would refer automobile accident victims to a particular collision repair company in exchange for a kickback. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that the lawyer advised the collision repair company on the fraud, and filed “several” phony personal injury claims related to the overall fraud.
There are some malpractice avoidance/attorney ethics basics that can be learned from this. First of all, it is not wise to counsel your clients on how to perpetrate a fraud. Pursuant to Pennsylvania Rule of Professional Conduct 1.16, a lawyer “shall not represent a client” or shall withdraw from representation if “the representation will result in a violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct or other law.” Secondly, it is not wise to file “phony” lawsuits. Aside from the legal ramifications, Rule of Professional Conduct 3.1 allows lawyers to bring an action only if there “is a basis in law and fact for doing so. . .” As well, Rule 3.3 requires that a lawyer shall not knowingly “make a false statement of material fact” to a tribunal. Suffice it to say that if the allegations against Mr. Wolf are true, he will be answering to the Disciplinary Board for a number of reasons! The Inquirer’s article can be found at: http://www.philly.com/philly/news/breaking/20110419_Cop__lawyer__charged_in_car_insurance_fraud_scheme.html
The Pennsylvania Rules of Professional Conduct can be found at: http://www.padisciplinaryboard.org/rules/index.php