Law Offices of Scott J Bloch, P.A.

“Justice delayed is justice denied”

1025 Connecticut Ave, NW
Suite 1000
Washington, DC 20036
P: (202) 496-1290
F: (202) 478-0479

Scott Bloch Law Law Blog

Try saying that three times fast

 

SCOTT BLOCH WARNS OF EXPLOSIVE CONSEQUENCES FOR MISTREATING CONTRACTORS WITH PTSD

Post-traumatic stress disorder is real,” says attorney Scott Bloch, www.dcresultslawyers.com, a well known advocate for contractors who have been discarded after the wars.   “The explosions they experienced in Iraq or Afghanistan are nothing compared to the explosion in their lives and the lives of those close to them.”  Bloch describes a condition that is affecting tens of thousands of contractors who worked alongside the military, many of them undiagnosed.

Iraq explosion

“I have at least 50 clients who have had serious combat exposure of death, major injury and near-death experiences, some over a 5-10 year period.  Some did not know they had it until I asked them a battery of questions and sent them to be assessed by qualified psychiatrists and psychologists. It is in the nature of PTSD and related conditions that they hide themselves from the person who has them. It is their coping mechanism run amok that lands them in the difficult grips of this psychological and physiological nightmare.  Anyone in the military will tell you, nobody comes back from combat without the scars.  PTSD or some of the residual trauma that is left over will haunt most who have seen combat all their days.   I don’t think people believe it because they don’t have to live with them.”

One of Scott Bloch’s clients, CJ Mercadante, has lived with PTSD and TBI for over 7 years since his injuries with Blackwater in Iraq.  He has been dealing with CNA ever since.  He says: “What the insurance company’s do is nothing short of harassing causing your condition to exacerbate as they did with me personally. CNA challenges every single issue which makes my care impossible at times.  Most medical physicians will drop the injured because they just don’t want to deal with the insurance company.  The key is knowing your rights and finding physicians that are not afraid to challenge the insurer.  The DBA system encourages the insurer to challenge everything as the lawyers and the insurer will be reimbursed by the government under the War Hazards Compensation Act with a 15% kicker ONLY if they challenge the claim.  If they don’t, they get nothing.    Understanding this, the result of this is devastating as they will delay, ignore and harass for this purpose.”

But those with the actual disorder are affected in a more fundamental way. PTSD and traumatic brain injury both alter the bio-chemistry and way of physically experiencing being alive, to exaggerated response of the endocrine system, hyper-adrenaline response, to high blood pressure, greater coronary disease, teeth falling out from carries or bruxism, destruction of personality and deterioration of the ability to be intimate emotionally and physically.  Not all of these are experienced by those with varying degrees of PTSD or TBI.  Some have adjustment disorders, some mere depression, some dissociative disorders to accompany the wild dreams and sleeplessness and strange personality changes.

“My clients are being systematically driven to the brink of death by the insurance carriers and their tormentors,” says Bloch.  “Fraud, lies to government officials, misplaced records, unpaid medical bills, ruination of credit, denials, pretend mistakes, cutting off benefits, fraudulent defense medical exams, all done with the idea of beating clients into submission, of getting them to want to take less than they are allotted by law – all designed to make them worse off than they were to show them the insurance company has a right to its money, the law be damned.  Many of my clients are like the damned in some twisted Inferno of the contractor’s and insurance company’s making.  They and their minions may think it is just business as usual, a way to keep their money – but they are actually eroding the fabric of American society, undermining the core of our laws and making a mockery of our involvement in defending the world from terrorism. Our society is going to be saddled with their problems, in the form of billions in care, for the thousands of contractors who essentially were military out of uniform for a decade, and still are fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan and elsewhere.”

Bloch has sued on behalf of over 2,000 people who have experienced mistreatment and indifference at the hands of contracting giants and their insurance billionaires.  “What has to happen is change in the law, the courts have to be willing to accept genuine cases of intentional wrongdoing that were never intended to be treated like piddling complaints of being annoyed or harassed by insurance companies in routine claims handling problems.  That is not what we have here.  In the name of being free of lawsuits, contracting companies like Blackwater, KBR/Halliburton, DynCorp, AECOM, AEGIS and others, along with insurance giants AIG, CNA and ACE, among others, have used this basic idea and overstepped the line by miles – essentially taking the ‘exclusive remedy’ doctrine of workers compensation as a license to kill.  Untold thousands of family members have had their lives turned upside down by the ruthless fraud of these companies.  They don’t care that they ruin the lives of small children, cause them to lose their homes, breakup of marriages, loss of any hope of a relationship with one of their parents.”

The class action is on appeal to the DC Circuit Court of Appeals and will be argued later in the year.  Joshua Gillelan, III, well known appellate advocate and DBA/Longshore expert of the National Longshore Workers Claimant Center is on the briefs for the contractors who have been harmed by these companies.    See copy of Appellant’s brief here: BrinkDCCir.ApptsBrRe-CorrectedFiled.

NEW RAND STUDY SHOWS CONTRACTORS WITH HIGHER RATE OF PTSD

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A new Rand Corporation survey, “Out of the Shadows,” confirms what we know at the Law Offices of Scott J. Bloch: a large percentage of contractors working in Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from psychological effects due to their exposures to war time conditions, including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Depression.  The Rand study, which can be accessed at the following website:  http://www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RR420.html, reflects that  Twenty-five percent of private contractors in the study met the criteria for PTSD, while 18 percent screened positive for depression, figures that appear to outflank even service member rates.

One of the stunning results of the study is that contractors receive no help during their time in war zones, and often receive no screening or services after, being left to their own devices.  Few are ever given psychological screening, and fewer yet are encouraged to seek help through their legal right to compensation and treatment under the Defense Base Act.

The report also reflects a need for post-service assistance for the contractor workforce, which lacks the type of support network provided to veterans.  

This is an important step in the recognition of this grave injustice to contractors, many of whom have stood alongside our fighting men and women, many of whom themselves served honorably in the armed forces before becoming contractors.

CONTRACTORS WITH PTSD ARE LEFT FLOATING WITHOUT A PADDLE

Mary on river

 

 

 

 Post-traumatic stress disorder is a real disease and should be taken seriously. How many tales have we heard about someone who has gone  through a tragedy and never really are the same?  Ask Mary Southerland, a client of Scott J. Bloch, who is doing something about it even though  SOC and the insurance company Allied World/Broadspire are doing everything they can to make it harder for her under the DBA.  She is kayaking on the Ohio River to promote how those with PTSD are “left floating” by the system.

Southerland said it is difficult for veterans and almost impossible for civilian contractors to get proper treatment for PTSD. Unable to work  because of what happened to her, she used up all her savings and was lucky to find a therapist willing to work with her on credit.  Others have not  been so lucky. The Department of Defense has noted military suicides have been rising since 2006, reaching 349 last year, which is more than the 295 reported killed in Afghanistan during the same time.

The Defense Department has argued that the deaths have nothing to do with the deployments, that is just something that is happening in the civilian world because of factors such as mental illness, substance abuse and financial problems. But how many of those deployed suffered from these problems before being sent into a high-stress environment?

Why are we not doing more to help PTSD sufferers in the military and those who have served as civilian contractors in war zones in Afghanistan and Iraq among others? According to figures from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, up to 20 percent of veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan wars experience PTSD. That number was even higher, 30 percent, for Vietnam War veterans.

Southerland said it is difficult for veterans and almost impossible for civilian contractors to get proper treatment for PTSD. Unable to work because of what happened to her, she used up all her savings and was lucky to find a therapist willing to work with her on credit.

Others have not been so lucky. The Department of Defense has noted military suicides have been rising since 2006, reaching 349 last year, which is more than the 295 reported killed in Afghanistan during the same time.  Changes have to be made to clear up the system and specifically to make sure those in the most need of help are being bumped to the head of the line. Leaders also need to be proactive about searching for signs of PTSD in those who return. Stoicism is a part of the military culture. No one wants to admit to having problems and being seen as less able to deal with things. But the military has to protect its members from themselves sometimes.

PTSD sufferers are no less than anyone else, they just need help to get back to the way they once were.  Mary is fighting and we will continue to pursue her case until her employer and the insurance company pay what is required by the law.

Southerland talked about fellow contractors – friends who’ve killed themselves, her growing frustrations with government red tape and private insurance companies she says are responsible for worker compensation payments for contractors injured while abroad.

She also discussed how she’s using the Ohio River as more than a means for travel, but as a path to healing.  There was a time, she says, when she considered committing suicide – even asking her attorney if her family would receive health benefits if she killed herself.

“When you think about ending your life because your head is so wrong, it just scares you to death,” she said.  Mary says she has to remind herself about why life is important. Her speeches encourage others to lobby the government for more mental health services for contractors and soldiers. She doesn’t get specific about what led to her own struggles.

“Not right now. Right now it’s still kind of raw. It’s still extremely very raw,” she said.  Traveling with friends, she credits her faith and her service dog Henry with helping her get through those tough times.  “I know that I’m not there yet but with Henry – that gave me hope. Henry saved my life,” Southerland said.

PTSD sufferers are no less than anyone else, they just need help to get back to the way they once were.  Mary is fighting and we will continue to pursue her case until her employer and the insurance company pay what is required by the law.

For more press on this important story, see this story, http://www.timesonline.com/news/local_news/a-journey-to-raise-awareness/article_c5e7e760-8d62-59de-9dc3-833bd73b461f.html

RAND LAUNCHES STUDY ON HEALTH AND WELL-BEING OF PRIVATE CONTRACTORS

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Well known think tank RAND Corp has commissioned a study of the health and well-being of contractors who work overseas.  It is about time that someone with brains gave some serious thought to what has turned out to be a medical and humanitarian crisis for those contractors and their families.

I encourage all who have been overseas working as private military or security contractors to contact RAND and provide your input on their 10 minute survey.  I think it is important for them to recognize the serious problem with contractors who have medical and mental issues that are not only overlooked by the companies and their insurance carriers, but often are worsened by the harsh mistreatment of them toward those who have sacrificed so much.

Here is the rest of their press release to give you information on how you can participate in this important study.  Let it be the beginning of comprehensive study and reform of how Congress and the Pentagon and State Department handle this growing epidemic involving more than 100,000 killed and injured contractors in the Iraq and Afghanistan theaters, as well as the many more people in families this has affected.

* * *

The RAND study is the first comprehensive survey of the health and well-being of individual

contractors who have worked in theaters of conflict, and gives them an opportunity to tell

researchers what it is like to be a contractor in a conflict zone.

“Private contractors provide critical support to both governmental and nongovernmental

entities across the globe,” said Molly Dunigan, project co-leader and a RAND political

scientist. “We hope the data we collect will give a more accurate picture of what contractors

experience.”

The study will include a web-based survey of private military and security contractors.

Anyone who has deployed on contract to a theater of conflict at any point over the past two

years is eligible to complete the survey, regardless of the job he or she performed. The survey

is anonymous, with no information collected about either the survey respondents or their

employers.

Anyone who wants to take part in the survey can access it online at

http://mmic.rand.org/contractor. For questions regarding the study, contact the project at

contractorsurvey@rand.org.

The study is part of RAND’s continuing program of self-initiated independent research.

Support for such research is provided, in part, by donors and by the independent research and

development provisions of RAND’s contracts for the operation of its U.S. Department of

Defense federally funded research and development centers.  It is being conducted within the

Forces and Resources Policy Center, a component of the RAND National Security Research

 

Contact:

Lisa Sodders

lsodders@rand.org

310.451.6913

 

OFFICE OF

MEDIA RELATIONS

703.413.1100 x5117

and 310.451.6913

media@rand.org

www.rand.org

Division helping to improve policy and decision making governing personnel management

and use of defense resources to enhance readiness and sustain the nation’s all-volunteer force.

 

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The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and

decisionmaking through research and analysis. To sign up for RAND e- mail alerts:

http://www.rand.org/newsletters.html

Bloch Wins Benefits for Widow of Iraq Contractor Suicide

Scott Bloch with assistance from Josh Gillelan, II, succeeded in winning death benefits for the widow of an Iraq war contractor who worked for KBR and had been subjected to multiple mortar attacks and witnessed other gruesome and stressful effects of war.  Over the course of a couple of years, he developed psychological injuries and began acting extremely agitated.  He returned home to deal with growing problems with his wife and daughter, but he could not cope with circumstances at home and within a month committed suicide.

The widow won at hearing, but KBR and AIG had appealed to the Benefits Review Board.  The widow’s attorney had abandoned her and filed no brief on appeal, so the Board had only the view of AIG and KBR and reversed on questions of expert evidence and which psychiatrist was more believable regarding what caused the suicide – an intervening cause that had nothing to do with his stress from Iraq, or an unbroken chain of events that included the stress and heightened impulsiveness of a person who has been affected by Iraq.

On remand, the Judge determined that the weight of the evidence was in favor of reinstating benefits, and ordered AIG to pay back pay and pay going forward for all death benefits owing under the Defense Base Act.

“There is nothing more satisfying than to help a widow who had been abandoned not only by the contractor and the insurance company, but had also been mistreated by her own attorney whom she trusted to act in her best interests,” said Bloch about the outcome of the case.  “Our client was very deserving,” he said.  “Even when the system let her down she kept faith and fought on.”

To read the entire decision, go here Decision and Order on Remand Dill.

CONTRACTED: America’s Secret Warriors

 Author Kerry Patton has written a book that helps dispel the errors floating about concerning American’s undecorated and unsung warriors.  Contracted: America’s Secret Warriors, is a fictionalized account but offer much to underscore the heroism and contribution of so many to the country’s cause.

As a military veteran and expert in intelligence, security and counter-terrorism who has worked at the highest levels of government, including the Department of Defense and Homeland Security, Patton initially began Contracted as an autobiography.  However, fear of breaching intelligence secrets led Patton to switch gears, writing a fictionalized story instead, one based on true events, but told through the voice of Declan Collins, a former military man recruited out of civilian life by the CIA for intelligence work in Afghanistan.

There, Declan and his civilian partner, Rex Browhart, himself a former military vet, find themselves assigned as military advisors at a Forward Operating Base in eastern Afghanistan.

At the FOB, Collins and Browhart form a working alliance with a varied group of officers and enlisted men on a plan to arm Afghan warlords eager to fight the Taliban, a plan Collins believes will save American lives.

Most of the men aiding Collins in this task are a mixture of Special Forces, including Delta Force, Navy Seals and Army Rangers and Green Berets. To Collins, these men are modern day warriors, part of a dying breed, driven to sacrifice their lives for God, family and country.

It’s a patriotic theme Patton employs throughout his book, one in which money isn’t the primary motivating factor driving these contractors — most of whom are former military — but rather a deep love of country further fueled by an abiding loyalty to aid their brothers-in-arms.

Unfortunately, the press has helped to paint a picture of civilian contractors as either nothing more than mercenaries in search of a quick paycheck or out-of-control homicidal maniacs, such as those in Blackwater, the private security consulting firm employed by the US government during the Iraq war.

Not surprisingly, that negative portrayal tends to overlook the heroism and sacrifices that many contractors have performed and endured once they have left the comfort and safety of the civilian world for life in a combat zone.

In fact, it is to that point that Patton reportedly wrote Contracted, noting it is “truly meant for those unsung heroes who never get recognized yet often get chastised.”

That recognition comes at the same time as the use of civilian contractors in combat zones by American corporations, defense contractors, and governmental agencies — including the DOD, State Department and CIA — is growing in both prominence and danger.

Specifically, in 2012 American civilian contractors constituted 62 percent of the US presence in Afghanistan. These contractors are used in many unarmed roles, including transporting supplies, staffing food services, building homes and commercial facilities and serving as interpreters.

However, they are also employed in armed capacities, jobs which include providing security for State Department and Pentagon officials, guarding US installations, gathering intelligence and training the Afghan army and police.

Still, whether operating in armed or unarmed roles, the risks these civilian contractors face are great. In 2011, 430 American contractors were reported killed in Afghanistan — 386 who worked for the Defense Department — and 1,777 injured or wounded.

In fact, 2011 marked the first time that deaths among civilian contractors working for American companies in Afghanistan outnumbered the deaths of US military personnel in that country.

Yet in addition to the physical risks they face, civilian contractors can also be subjected to the prospect of financial ruin.

For example, while the federal Defense Base Act requires American contractors to carry insurance that will provide their employees with medical care and compensation, there have been numerous instances in which medical coverage has been cancelled and contractors and their families uncompensated.

Not surprisingly, all of this has gone relatively unnoticed by the American public, ignorance perhaps driven in part by journalistic indifference.

Of course, to be fair, it’s not entirely unusual that the full details of war have difficulty coming to light. That view was once expressed decades after the Civil War had ended, when Walt Whitman, in a moment of reflection, wrote, “The real war will never get in the books.”

To his credit, Kerry Patton’s new novel, Contracted: America’s Secret Warriors,has managed to allow us a glimpse into the real war in Afghanistan and the hazardous and heroic role played there by America’s civilian contractors.

BLOCH VOWS TO FIGHT ON WITH DBA CLASS ACTION

 

Scott Bloch vows to appeal dismissal of complaint for $2 billion against major government contractors like KBR, Blackwater and DynCorp, G4S/Ronco and the global insurance carriers AIG, CNA, ACE and Zurich, on behalf of thousands of former employees, for unlawful, fraudulent and bad-faith mistreatment of injured employees and their families  

 

WASHINGTON, DC (December 21, 2012) – Today the Federal District Court in Washington, DC dismissed all of the claims of 31 persons who have been subjected to a scheme to harm and defraud by Insurance giants CNA, AIG, Zurich and ACE, as well as by the multi-billion dollar Contractor community of Blackwater, KBR, ITT, RONCO, L-3 and many others.

Scott Bloch addressed the dismissal: “Some of the injured plaintiffs have fought for their rights to recover for their injuries for more than 8 years, having lost limbs and contracted PTSD, brain injury and many other injuries.  None of what this class action is claiming on their behalf and on behalf of thousands of others who have been grievously wronged is recoverable in the workers compensation scheme known as the Defense Base Act or DBA.  That is why they had to seek redress in Court.  These companies must pay for what they have put these brave individuals and their families through, and we will not stop fighting on their behalf and will appeal this.”

The Court reasoned that the DBA is the exclusive remedy and one cannot access justice in the Courthouse, but instead must seek relief through the Department of Labor.  The problem is, all of the claims are not for matters that the DBA provides relief for or can be redressed by the Department of Labor, and many of the individuals already have obtained whatever relief they could in their workers compensation case.  They are not asking the Court for that kind of relief, but for the insurance companies and the contractors to stop committing fraud in stopping payment on checks that are agreed to be owed, or authorizing medical care for brain injuries or needed surgeries they agree they have to pay for, but simply refuse to pay bills or to pre-pay for procedures as they have to.  Some people have to go for months, even years, with no medical care, and there is nothing the Department of Labor will do or even in many cases can do to stop this illegal and fraudulent behavior.

Since 2003, top government contractors like Blackwater, KBR, DynCorp, G4S, CSA/AECOM and ITT have been perpetrating a fraud on their employees and on the American public.  The silent warriors who work for these companies, many of them decorated former military service members, have been injured, mistreated and abandoned by the contracting companies and their insurance carriers who have been paid hundreds of millions of dollars in premiums.

“It is a grave injustice,” Bloch said, “to those who rode alongside American soldiers, including Iraqi and Afghani Nationals, to be cast aside without the benefits of the law.  We are supposedly trying to bring them the rule of law.  We are supposedly trying to encourage them in democractic institutions.  We are the ones asking them to believe in justice and individual rights.  This is a travesty to all Americans and those around the world who look to America for an example of humanitarian aid and proper treatment of workers.”

This is a lawsuit for damages in the amount of $2 billion to remedy the injuries and destruction caused to the lives, finances and mental and physical well being of thousands of American families and others whose loved ones were injured while serving America under contracts with the United States.  It seeks an additional unspecified amount to punish the companies who made massive profits while causing this harm to people unlawfully and maliciously and working a fraud on the American public who paid them.

“This abusive and illegal scheme by the defendants has been allowed to go on for too long.  We are talking about loss of life, suicide, loss of homes, marriages, families split up, “ Bloch said, “and the culprits are the large government contractors who should have treated their employees better, and the mega-insurance companies who were paid a hefty sum to make sure the employees were taken care of with uninterrupted benefits in the event of injuries in these war zones.”

The Plaintiffs have 30 days in which to file a notice of appeal.

 

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Scott Bloch Appears on Television Program on Contractor Problems

 

Scott Bloch appeared on an international television show, “The Heat” on CCTV America, concerning the problems contractors face in Iraq and Afghanistan.  The segment, entitled, “Is US outsourcing the operations in Iraq and Afghanistan,” interviewed Mr. Bloch as well as his client, Daniel Hoagland who suffers from oropharyngeal cancer due to his dental problems he developed while working for KBR in Iraq.  This powerful interview shows the degree to which contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan and their insurance carriers bypass the law, disregarding the human suffering this causes.   Mr. Bloch speaks about the class action against contractors and insurance companies in this interview, focusing on the opportunity to bring justice and appropriate care to the thousands who have suffered after their tours in Iraq, Kuwait and Afghanistan.

Watch the segment here, linked in from defense base act blog:

 

To watch the entire show as it aired, go to this link: http://english.cntv.cn/program/theheat/20120325/107797.shtml

Judge Denies Blackwater’s Motion for Arbitration

Read First Amended Complaint as filed Mercadante et al. v Blackwater et al here.

WASHINGTON, DC (May 23, 2012) – Blackwater Industries, which changed its name to Xe Services, and now has changed it yet again to Academi LLC, lost its initial bid to have the $240 million suit for employee misclassification sent to arbitration and dismissed from federal court in Washington, D.C.

Scott Bloch filed an amended complaint  (see link above) in the class action lawsuit on behalf of four former security specialists, who were injured while working for Blackwater, in order to recover their payment of social security, unemployment insurance, and unpaid benefits and state and local withholding and unemployment insurance, and other unspecified damages.  The action seeks $240,000,000 in damages for lost benefits, overtime, treble damages and punitive damages, as well as additional amounts as proved for the class of specialists.

The court has rejected that motion filed by Blackwater and required it to file another motion to determine if the same Plaintiffs agreed to have an arbitrator determine if the agreements were unconscionable, procured by duress, fraud and undue influence.

“Blackwater acted illegally and unconscionably toward these brave individuals,” said Bloch.  “Through their fraud as pointed out in the Amended Complaint, they avoided overtime for security workers who worked sometimes 12-16 hours a day 6 days a week.  They were forced to sign agreements they never read and were not given time to read and not given copies, which took away valuable rights and were unlawful in their terms.  Now the court has rejected their initial motion and required Blackwater to seek the same relief if they can prove that the Plaintiffs who never were allowed to read the original agreements agreed to have an arbitrator determine whether they properly agreed to anything.  We continue to assert the illegality of the agreements and the actions of Blackwater.”

Read Xe’s Arbitration Bid Denied in Misclassification Suit here.

Contact Scott J. Bloch, PA:

Scott Bloch, 202-496-1290

$50 million Lawsuit Targets Large Law Firm Billing Practices

 

 

 

On January 27, 2012, Scott  Bloch filed a lawsuit in Missouri against a large regional lawfirm, Husch Blackwell LLP.  Co-counsel William Skepnek of Lawrence, Kansas, and Loren Moll of Kansas City firm Caldwell & Moll, join him in the suit.  All three have a background in major actions against  lawyers who put their own interests ahead of that of their clients.

As reported in the media, the legal malpractice suit in Missouri state court claims that “the firm bungled the company’s 2008 stock offering and caused EnerJex to suffer $50 million in losses.

“In late 2007, EnerJex decided to raise capital by, among other things, engineering a reverse stock split, selling 5 million shares and getting listed on the American Stock Exchange … Husch Blackwell attorneys and co-defendants Jeffery Haughey and Robert Green …had little or no experience in performing the due diligence for a small startup or micro-cap company similar to EnerJex … the firm missed critical deadlines: EnerJex’s S-1 registration was filed with the SEC in April 2008, five weeks behind schedule, according to the petition.

“The suit also claims that Husch Blackwell’s work on EnerJex matters “was bloated with superfluous lawyers who performed redundant and unnecessary work.”

“EnerJex claims Haughey made numerous fraudulent representations to the company, including his claim that he could conduct due diligence for $25,000 and represent EnerJex in the public offering for as little as $100,000.”

To read more, click here for the article on this important lawsuit.  Click her Petition as filed to read the Petition filed in state court.

“Clients have a right,” said Bloch about the case, “to greater loyalty in carrying out their objectives, not the objectives of their attorneys in satisfying their billable hour goals.  The legal team here seeks not only to get justice for our client but to send a clear message to large law firms that overbilling and improper billing practices cannot go on.”