(Los Angeles, California) Knox Ricksen LLP secured a multi-million-dollar judgment on behalf of Allstate Insurance Company and the State of California in a qui tam lawsuit involving the commandeering of law offices by unlicensed persons, the filing of fraudulent claims, and the laundering of settlement proceeds through remote check cashing facilities. Judge Richard J. Burdge, Jr. of the Los Angeles County Superior Court signed a judgment on September 15, 2021, of more than $51 million in civil penalties, assessments, attorneys’ fees, costs and expenses, and issued a permanent injunction against the scheme’s ringleader, Tiffany Yang, in People of the State of California ex rel. Allstate Ins. Company, et al. v. Chang Hwan Park, et al. (Los Angeles County Superior Court Case No. BC541477.)
The Park case was prosecuted as a civil action by members of Knox Ricksen LLP’s qui tam practice group, including partners Thomas E. Fraysse and Ryan G. Jacobson, and associates Angelica V. De Mesa, Joseph F. Hasegawa, and Melissa M. Marquez.
Allstate, acting as a relator or whistleblower on behalf of the State of California alleged that the unlicensed laypersons, Tiffany Yang and Chang Hwan “Terry” Park, along with California attorneys Sunmin Lee, Michael Lee and Kelly Casado, and chiropractor Christine An, combined to violate California’s criminal insurance fraud statute by presenting hundreds of false, fraudulent or misleading personal injury claims through “sham” law offices and chiropractic clinics controlled by Yang and Park – Wilshire Legal Services dba Law Offices of Sunmin Lee & Associates, Northwest Law Firm, Casado Law Firm, Angel Chiropractic Care dba Stocker Chiropractic, Christine An Chiropractic, and Holy Chiropractic. They alleged that while the law offices and chiropractic practices were held out to the public and insurance companies as legitimate businesses, the professionals involved had surrendered all significant control to the unlicensed defendants who prepared and presented claims to insurance companies for their own personal benefit.
The judgment also included a permanent injunction against Tiffany Yang, who Allstate alleged to be the ringleader of the fraud scheme. Yang is prohibited from working for attorneys or healthcare professionals, creating law offices and healthcare facilities, appearing as a person authorized to sign checks for law firms and healthcare facilities, and from referring persons to law firms or healthcare facilities.
Knox Ricksen partner Ryan Jacobson commented, “The concept of an unlicensed person literally commandeering a law firm with the aid and assistance of licensed practitioners for the purpose of defrauding insurers should be offensive to every practicing lawyer, even relatively inexperienced lawyers. I suppose this case is a parable for newly minted, unwary attorneys. If someone offers you a turnkey personal injury operation that sounds too good to be true, go with your gut, it is.”