Attorneys found guilty of fraud

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 11, 2010

NATCHEZ — Two attorneys will have to pay back settlement money and pay additional punitive damages to Illinois Central Railroad for alleged fraudulent claims they filed in an asbestos settlement case.

A federal jury found that William Guy and Thomas Brock, both of McComb, filed claims for two men, Willie Harried and Warren Turner Jr., in an asbestos suit against the railroad.

However, Harried and Turner had reportedly already taken part in the 1995 asbestos-related legal action, Cosey v. E.D. Bullard Co., and the two men received compensation following a verdict in favor of the plaintiffs in that case.

If the men’s involvement in the 1995 case had been known, they would have been prohibited from participating in the suit against Illinois Central Railroad.

At trial, Harried and Turner reportedly told the jury that they told the two attorneys about their involvement in the 1995 case.

In the Illinois Central case, which was settled in 2002, Harried received a payment of $90,000 and Turner received a payment of $120,000.

The federal jury ruled that Guy and Brock must pay the railroad the combined $210,000 of the men’s settlement, and must pay the railroad $210,000 in punitive damages.

“Illinois Central is pleased that a Mississippi federal jury held these plaintiffs’ lawyers liable for fraud in asbestos claims against us,” said Karen Phillips, Vice President of Public and Government Affairs for Illinois Central, in a news release.

“Our company will continue to aggressively pursue all suspected fraud or litigation abuses.”