by Brian Mahany
Let’s start this post by me saying we are a firm of plaintiff’s lawyers and proud of it. We don’t bring frivolous lawsuits and strive for justice in everything we do. Not all lawyers can say that, however. I personally know several physicians who are so afraid of being sued that they have much of their money offshore. The fear is justified but simply moving one’s money doesn’t solve any problems and if done incorrectly, can land you in jail.
There is a place for offshore asset protection if done correctly. An effective asset protection plan need not be complex. It should be drafted by a lawyer specializing in both estate planning and asset protection, however.
Let me share a story from the City of New York and I think you will understand why so many doctors are worried about frivolous lawsuits.
Nancy DiGeronimo is a Jehovah’s Witness. Because of her religious convictions, she does not believe in receiving blood transfusions. Unfortunately, during childbirth DiGeronimo had severe complications and almost died in the delivery room. Her doctor, Allen Fuchs, ultimately had to transfuse blood to save her and the child. He says she consented and her husband signed a consent form. She doesn’t remember (probably because she was near dead).
Ultimately, she sued her doctor for saving her life and the that of the baby. It took 5 long years of litigation before the judge finally through out her suit. In doing so he said, “The plaintiff’s argument, taken to its logical conclusion, is that the doctor should have allowed her to die rather than give her an ‘allogenic’ blood transfusion. Since the plaintiff’s transfusion saved her life, this action is analogous to one for ‘wrongful life’ against the doctor. However, there is no cause of action for ‘wrongful life’ in the State of New York.” Amen to logic, unfortunately Dr. Fuchs’ defense fees were probably well into the 6 figures.
The point of this story has nothing to do with wrongful life suits and whether the judge was right or wrong. It’s that people in high risk occupations need to worry about lawsuits. One can only obtain so much insurance and try to anticipate so many risks.
Smart professionals have a well thought out asset protection plan that includes insurance and legal structures to hedge against runaway jury awards and frivolous claims. Simply moving one’s money offshore or purchasing an “off the shelf” trust from an Internet huckster isn’t the way to go.
The time to establish an asset protection plan is before there are any claims or potential claims. Once again, human nature is such that many callers to our firm contact us after they have been sued. Simply trying to hide assets during a lawsuit is often illegal and usually ineffective.
If you have questions about offshore and domestic asset protection, give us a call. The call is without obligation and completely confidential. For more information contact attorney Brian Mahany at (414) 704-6731 (direct) or by email at
[Depending on your location, services may be performed by MahanyLaw or Mahany & Ertl, LLC. Hat tip to silive.com, the Internet edition of the Staten Island Real TIme News for the story.]