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General News    H3'ed 4/21/11

Law Firm That Sued Taco Bell Has Its Own Issues With Fraud

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Message Roger Shuler

Cross Posted at Legal Schnauzer

An Alabama law firm that sued Taco Bell for mislabeling beef has its own connections to alleged fraudulent behavior.

The Beasley Allen firm, of Montgomery, generated national headlines in January when it joined with a California firm to file a lawsuit against Taco Bell. The suit was filed on behalf of a single California client, but it sought class-action status. It claimed that what Taco Bell called "beef" was largely additives and did not meet federal standards for a product called "beef."

Both sides claimed victory Tuesday after Beasley Allen announced that it had dropped the lawsuit. But the story does not end there. For one thing, Taco Bell says it wants an apology for being forced to spend substantial sums of money defending a groundless lawsuit. The firm launched a public-relations campaign yesterday, taking out full-page ads in several newspapers with the headline, "Would it kill you to say you're sorry."

Law firms are not noted for issuing apologies, but the public should know this: Beasley Allen, while pointing an accusatory finger at Taco Bell, regularly affiliates itself with an attorney who has been charged in a federal whistleblower lawsuit with fraud. In fact, you might say that Beasley Allen engages the services of a lawyer who does not meet the general standards for a person called "ethical."

Homewood attorney Rob Riley, the son of former GOP governor Bob Riley, has worked with Beasley Allen on a number of cases. These include lawsuits against nursing homes and a rollover-death case involving a GEO Tracker. Founding partner Jere Beasley has referred to Riley as "a good lawyer" in press reports.

Beasley might want to check out a federal lawsuit, filed in 2008 under the False Claims Act (FCA), claiming that a firm Riley owns engages in Medicare fraud and other illegal activity. Performance Group LLC provides physical-therapy services and counts Riley among its owners. At least two members of the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) medical staff have been affiliated with Performance Group.

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I live in Birmingham, Alabama, and work in higher education. I became interested in justice-related issues after experiencing gross judicial corruption in Alabama state courts. This corruption has a strong political component. The corrupt judges are (more...)
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