Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Lenin "Lenny" Perez

It never seems to end...

As if being harassed by OWCP or the agency you worked for, as if being hurt on the job or having to constantly prove your injuries wasn’t enough to deal with, now the people who claim to be on your side to help you are also taking advantage.

It’s no secret how I feel about attorneys and representatives who advertise their willingness to help claimants, but actually don't. Sure, there are some good ones out there, but more and more I’m hearing about how these same people are abusing claimants too.

It’s becoming common for attorneys and representatives to charge a claimant a percentage of their schedule award, even though OWCP does not allow that. They get away with it because claimants don’t know it’s not allowed.

This bothers me. First because it’s the claimant that was hurt, it’s the claimant that has a permanent impairment they have to live with and it’s the claimant that’s entitled to their schedule award money. For an attorney or representative to take a chunk of that just seems wrong to me.

Second, schedule awards aren’t that hard. The doctor does the impairment rating, so an attorney or representative doesn’t have to do any work there-the doctor does. The CA-7 is easy enough to complete. For a schedule award, the CA-7 is just a couple of sections. The attorney or representative isn’t working hard on that either. If they complete it for a claimant, it shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes of their day.

OWCP could deny the schedule award and the attorney or representative may have to appeal. Yes, this would make them have to work. But other claimant’s without schedule awards require appeals too, do the attorneys and representatives charge tens of thousands of dollars for those appeals? No. If they did, they’d be out of business.

So what justifies taking a percentage from 10%-30% of a claimant’s schedule award that can end up to be tens of thousands of dollars in the attorney’s or representative’s pocket for the same appeal? Why should a claimant with a schedule award have to pay so much more?

If you’re reading this, please understand that there are other attorneys, representatives and advocates that can help you without taking a percentage of your schedule award.

Which brings me to Lenin "Lenny" Perez. Mr. Perez and his company claim they are advocates for injured employees. Which would lead a person to believe they’re on the injured worker’s side. It’s true they charge a reasonable monthly fee, but they also take a percentage (10%) of a claimant’s schedule award.

In addition, Mr. Perez has now been arrested for a SECOND time for allegedly taking 15%-20% kickbacks for his referrals of injured workers to specific doctors/clinics. This time it’s being reported that Mr. Perez made more than $250,000.00 from these kickbacks.

Their website claims Mr. Perez is the leading consultant/advocate in the field. You’d think the leading consultant/advocate would at least know what is and isn’t legal especially when he was arrested for the same thing, plead guilty in 2006 and did jail time.

You’d think the leading consultant/advocate would know OWCP doesn’t allow him or his firm to take a percentage of a claimant’s schedule award.

You'd think the leading consultant/advocate would have a better win record.

You'd think the leading consultant/advocate wouldn't risk tarnishing claimants by association.

Sometimes a claimant needs help with their claim. If you do, my advice is to make sure the person you hire is not only on YOUR side but conducts their business in an ethical way. To know that they will fight for you and not just cash your checks.

And anyone who wants a percentage of your schedule award is outside the regulations of OWCP. If they’re willing to go outside the regulations on your schedule award, what else might they do that isn’t in your best interest?

Update: on 10/18/2016 Mr. Perez died at the Pinellas County jail while awaiting sentencing.

From the Tampa Tribune:

Appeal of Mr. Perez’ first sentence: