PRESTONSBURG – Ned Pillersdorf, the attorney representing nearly 1,500 former clients of Eric C. Conn after they had their SSI and disability benefits suspended earlier this year due to a fraud investigation, has amended his class action lawsuit against Conn to ask that the Stanville attorney return some $9 million in attorney fees.
Pillersdorf filed the amended complaint Friday in Floyd Circuit Court, saying the decision to ask for the fees back based on a ruling this past week that Conn allegedly falsely certified that he was eligible to represent his former clients.
Last week six counts of an eight-count federal whistleblower lawsuit was dismissed against Conn. But of the two remaining count, Pillersdorf says it was the ruling that Conn’s prior resignation from the Veteran’s Court while under investigation in 2002 “disqualified” him from representing people during their Social Security Administration (SSA) hearings that caught his eye.
“The only reason he got away with it,” Pillersdorf said, “was that he affirmatively failed to disclose this information in the SSA proceedings. He checked the no box when he should have checked the yes box, according to Judge Thapar.”
The law is that to act as an attorney in a social security proceeding you are affirmatively asked about your prior disciplinary history, Pillersdorf said, adding Judge Thapar, the federal judge overseeing that case, cites precedents throughout the opinion.
“Federal Judge Thapar goes into great detail as to how this concealment was false and misleading and credits the whistleblowers for exposing Conn’s conduct,” Pillersdorf said.
The amount of $9 million was arrived at based on the fact that fees in social security cases allow the attorney to receive 25 percent of awarded back payments up to $6,000, Pillersdorf said, adding it’s then a matter of multiplying that figure by 1,500.
Conn’s legal team has argued that his resignation did not amount to a disqualification for him to practice.
Sheldon Compton is a staff writer for The Floyd County Times. He can be reached at (606) 886-8506.