Not if you read the New York Post article last week on the sad case of retired police officer Elmer Santiago who is being sued, along with his 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund lawyers, by RD Legal Funding Partners, LP for $500,000. Some are saying this 9/11 hero and victim is being victimized yet again. See the eye opening lawsuit papers here!
RD Legal Funding Partners, LP is run by Roni Dersovitz, a former lawyer and now hedge-fund manager. Apparently, Mr. Dersovitz found “greener” pastures in the money lending business. The Wall Street Journal recently wrote about Mr. Dersovitz and some questionable activities involving “investments” in legal claims for United States victims and families against Iran from the deadly terror attacks in Beirut. :
“According to marketing documents and people familiar with the firm, an arm of RD Legal buys those claims from victims at a steep discount, in many instances paying victims less than half what they would be entitled to if the judgment is paid. Such arrangements are common in the business of buying claims, though the discounts can vary widely.”
Court documents (see link above) in the Santiago 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund case show that RD Legal Funding Partners, LP “advanced” (another word for “loan” in my opinion) police officer Santiago $355,000 in a series of transactions beginning in August of 2014. In return, RD Legal Funding demanded repayment of $863,636.36 when police officer Santiago received his full Victim Compensation Award in February 2016 (only 18 months later).
That’s over a half million dollar return on investment in just 18 months!!! Almost comically, RD Legal Funding claims to “Provides The Best Offer To 9/11 First Responders Community On Zadroga Awards”!
Bottom Line: It is the responsibility of a 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund lawyer to advise his clients on the pros and cons of “cash advances”. See New York City Bar Association Ethics Opinion here.
Trust me, there are many more “cons” as any lawyer with integrity will tell you. In the over 1000 9/11 victims our firm has represented thus far, less than 10 clients have needed to resort to “legal funding companies” as a method of paying bills while waiting for their 9/11 award. We actively discourage are clients from using such companies.
For those clients who have no choice but to seek a “cash advance” from these types of companies, the lawyer has a duty to make sure the client knows the full costs for every advance, and which funding companies are offering the best “terms”.
Turley, Hansen & Partners, LLP recently refused to sign a “Notice of Assignment” from RD Legal Funding Partners, LP on a case for one of our financially desperate clients because we thought our client could get a much better deal elsewhere.
Finally, it is puzzling why John Feal of the Fealgood Foundation actively and publicly promoted RD Legal Funding Partners to his followers.
Here is Mr. Feal’s exact quote from the RD Legal Funding website:
Dear Friends, Supporters, and Those Affected by 9/11,
I would like to take a moment to introduce RD Legal Funding and their services. They have worked with the Fealgood Foundation over the past year, helping First Responders receive accelerated access to their settlement awards.
Thankfully, Zadroga bill payments are coming up. Unfortunately, some of us can’t wait an additional 5 years for our second payment. If you find yourself in this predicament, RD Legal Funding can help.
From dealing with RD Legal, I can say that they truly appreciate the sacrifice all of us have made and understand the urgency of giving us access to our award settlements. They have taken a potentially complicated situation and made the process of advancing settlement money straightforward and simple.
I can confidently recommend RD Legal to all First Responders that need immediate access to their settlement funds.
Founder & President
Note that RD Legal Funding has given well over ten thousand dollars to Mr. Feal’s Foundation in the past few years. It appears Mr. Feal did not do his homework on RD Funding which has now led to 9/11 victims being victimized again.
For such a stalwart advocate of 9/11 heroes, it is hard to understand why Mr. Feal would so actively endorse an investment company like RD Legal Funding that is now suing police officer Santiago to repay out of his 9/11 settlement more than two and one half times the amount RD gave him only 18 months earlier.
What does Mr. Feal have to gain by telling his fellow heroes: “I can confidently recommend RD Legal to all First Responders”?
In order to protect all other 9/11 heroes, John Feal should disavow on the Fealgood Foundation Facebook site his prior public support of RD Legal Funding Partners, LP.In addition, perhaps Mr. Feal can ask his friends at RD Legal Funding to withdraw this unfortunate lawsuit against a fellow 9/11 hero. It’s the right thing to do.