Buzz-worthy lawsuit alleges las vegas lawyers engaged in insurance fraud _ las vegas review-journal

A federal lawsuit accuses Las Vegas attorneys Dennis Prince, George Ranalli and Sylvia Esparza of racketeering and civil conspiracy for trying to defraud an insurance company out of more than $18 million.

Prince is a prominent local attorney. Noodles and company lone tree He’s a partner in the Eglet Prince law firm and was honored as Trial Lawyer of the Year in 2016 by the Nevada Justice Association.

The roots of the complex fraud lawsuit are in a state negligence case involving a bicyclist who was hit by a pickup and suffered catastrophic brain damage.

Ryan Pretner was riding his bike Jan. Noodles and company nutrition 12, 2009, about 5:30 p.m. Menu at noodles and company when he was hit by a Ford F-150 driven by Michael Vasquez, owner of Blue Streak Auto Detailing. Noodles of the world locations Vasquez told police he was not on the job and that the truck was his personal vehicle, which was insured by Progressive Casualty Insurance Co. Noodles and company rochester The policy had a $100,000 liability cap.

On Jan. Noodles and company frankfort 7, 2011, Prince, representing Pretner and his legal guardians, his sister and father, sued Vasquez and Blue Streak Auto Detailing for negligence in a personal injury lawsuit in state court. Noodles and company ames Prince alleged Vasquez was on the job in his lawsuit, despite the driver’s claim that he was not.

Except Century thought Progressive was handling the case and was a no-show until it was too late. Noodles and company orem A default judgment of $18 million had been granted by District Judge Douglas Herndon.

The fraud lawsuit alleged Prince had orchestrated a deal with Progressive, an insurance company he represents. Www noodles “He assured Progressive that he planned to set up Century Surety for a subsequent bad faith claim and that he would not pursue Vasquez.”

The case was assigned to U.S. Noodles and company bangkok curry District Judge Andrew Gordon, who nixed Herndon’s move to add $5 million in attorney fees on top of the default judgment. Noodles and company loveland Gordon ordered the 40 percent attorney fees come from the judgment, not an add-on. Menu noodles and company That case is pending, awaiting a decision by the Nevada Supreme Court to determine whether Century would have to pay an amount over the $1 million policy cap.

Gordon found Century negligent in failing to represent Blue Streak in state court. Noodles and company tulsa But he also wrote, “Genuine issues of material fact remain regarding whether the settlement agreement was the product of fraud or collusion.” That’s a question for a jury, he wrote.

On Oct. Noodles and company layton 21, Century sued, claiming conspiracy and racketeering, alleging Prince, Ranalli and Esparza teamed to defraud Century through a “bad faith insurance set up.” That case was assigned to U.S. Noodles and company reviews District Judge Jim Mahan.

Prince spokesman Tom Letizia called the lawsuit “a Hail Mary” by Century that makes “crazy allegations” in an attempt to reach a smaller settlement.

Letizia added that Century was “negligent in the way they represented their client. All about noodles They are playing hardball with the wrong people. Noodles shop They screwed up and this is a last-ditch effort.”

It’s not disputed that Progressive hired Ranalli to advise Vasquez and negotiated a settlement agreement to pay Pretner the $100,000 maximum under the personal auto policy.

The lawsuit alleged Vasquez was reluctant to sign the settlement because he said repeatedly he was not on the job and didn’t believe the garage policy applied. Noodles and company boulder Ranalli is alleged to have pressured him to sign.

Esparza, an immigration attorney, was Pretner’s girlfriend at the time of the accident and is now his wife. Www noodles and company She originally represented him and helped make the decision to hire Prince. Noodles delight menu Century alleged she failed to disclose their relationship when she began negotiations. Noodles and company glen ellyn She did not respond to a request for comment.

The violation of Nevada’s racketeering laws is based on allegations of insurance fraud, offering false evidence, perjury or subornation of perjury and obtaining a signature by means of false pretenses. Noodles and company hours The conspiracy count is based on the alleged coordinated effort to defraud Century.

The case was filed by out-of-state attorneys from Wisconsin and California with Las Vegan Marty Kravitz acting as the local counsel. Noodles inc menu Milwaukee-based Ric Gass, a nationally noted trial attorney, is one of four attorneys on the case.

Jane Ann Morrison’s column runs Thursdays. Noodles and company concord ca Leave messages for her at 702-383-0275 or email Noodles and company dc Find her on Twitter: @janeannmorrison Photographic memory rare… Noodles and company vcu Deepwater Horizon case has…