2018 Scholarship Winner Announcement

We're excited to announce this year's scholarship winner and runner-up for the Christopher Simon Attorney at Law Scholarship. The awards were based on a variety of factors including academic achievements, current academic status, application essay, school and community involvement, and other achievement standards. After carefully evaluating the applications, we would like to congratulate Chicary Smith as this year's $1000 winner, and Julie Schwartzwald as runner-up. Congratulations to both of you!

Chicary Smith | Syracuse University College of Law

Chicary graduated from Kennesaw State University with a Bachelor of Science in Political Science - concentration in Legal Studies - and was among few students who made it on both the President's List and Dean's List. She served as Officer of Mock Mediation Team in 2015 and as the Treasurer of Pre-Law Club in 2014. She has a strong community service record. She's an incoming 1L student at Syracuse University College of Law.

Chicary has agreed to share her scholarship essay, which answers the following prompt:

Prompt: You are an injury trial lawyer who has negotiated a $250,000 settlement stemming from a car accident with a broken leg and surgery for your client. Your client had health insurance and they paid out $90,000 for medical care and are an ERISA self-funded plan and demand reimbursement. Your attorneys fees were 40% of the gross. The case is about to be dismissed by agreement and the funds dispersed. Read https://www.erisaclaimdefense.com/another-scotus-subrogation-decision-another-deep-dive-equity-treatises/ and write a 500 word essay on what dangers your client faces and what the best plan is to protect them.

"My client could possibly face the danger of their insurance company gaining reimbursement of their funds won in settlement if certain conditions are met. 

One condition consists of the company’s plan containing language that entails that the funds that it seeks are ‘specifically identifiable’ and are ‘within the possession and control of the participant’. This language seeks to enforce an ‘equitable lien by agreement’, thus making the claim equitable. My client and I need to investigate the company’s plan to confirm if the plan contains language that would satisfy success for its claim. If it does not specifically state the fund as described, then their claim would not be considered equitable.

My client could also face the danger of the insurance company successfully gaining reimbursement if my client had possession of the funds at some point and the funds are still traceable and within their possession. It is noted that as soon as my client has possession of the funds, the equitable lien will attach to them and the plan is not obligated to confine its recovery to the specific money that the participant received. The Supreme Court has held that equitable limitations do not apply to the benefit plan as a whole because the plan is a valid contract and the parties are only demanding what they bargained for under that contract. However, my client can counteract this notion by putting the funds into an entity such as a special funds trust as used in  Great-West Life & Annuity Ins. Co. v. Knudson, where the funds would not be considered to be in their possession. The Supreme Court holds that for a plan’s claim to be considered ‘equitable’, restitution is only available “where money or property is identified as belonging in good conscience to the plaintiff”. If my client places their funds in an entity that shows that they are not in their possession, then that voids any restitution that the insurance company tries to seek in an equitable sense. My client could also avoid this danger by simply using the funds on non-traceable items such as services so that they are not traced back to being in their possession. If my client completely squanders their funds on services then there are no funds present for the plan to have a claim to apply because the insurance company cannot seek to attach the claim to my client’s general assets.

My client still has time to implement these strategies discussed above since the case has yet to have been dismissed and the funds have not been dispersed. I need to evaluate the language of the insurance company’s plan to confirm if it states that it has rights to a specifically identifiable fund. If it does indeed use that language, then it would be in the best interest of my client to put the funds in an entity that would cause them to not be considered in her possession or they will need to spend them on non-traceable items and/or services."

Julie Schwartzwald | Tulane University Law School

The firm decided to do a $250 2nd place winner, and that award goes to Julie Schwartzwald for general good works and a good essay. She works for the KIPP charter school organization in New Orleans, wrote for several newspapers and is involved with the New Orleans Cherry Bombs. Julie will attend Tulane University Law School this fall as a 1L student.
Client Reviews
My wife and I were hit by a tractor trailer in 2014. After extensive research online, we were deeply impressed with the various reviews we read on Google and Avvo and chose Chris to represent us. We could not have a made a better decision. Chris and his firm treated us like we were their only clients, soothed our worries, and instantly gained our trust. Chris settled both of our cases for more than we expected. James
A co-worker of my wife recommended Chris to us. At the very beginning Chris showed that he cared and his knowledge is priceless. Going through this process can be aggravating but Chris did a great job guiding me through this and was always available to answer my questions. Chris fought to get what I deserved even though at times I wanted to give up. Tracy
I want to express my deepest sense of gratitude and appreciation to Attorney Chris Simon & Attorney Chris Carsten, for all the hard work that they put forth into my case (car accident filed after being hit by drunk driver). Their attention to detail and professionalism far surpasses their firm's reputation. Because of their diligence and dedication to their craft, they were able to bring my case to a successful close, one that I could live with. You will not find a better team for your case. Should I have a need for their services again in the future, or know of anyone looking for a top notch Auto Accident Law Firm, I would not hesitate to recommend them!!!! Elle
Wow...Chris is a very good attorney. Me and my son was in a very bad car accident an I was clueless on how to handle the situation. It's very hard to find an attorney who allows you to contact them personally instead of you contacting their asst. I was told that I didn't have a case because the hosiptal put a lien on my acct. Chris prove different and I was able to file my case with the insurance company. The process was very quickly and Im glad I selected the right attorney..Thanks Chris A Car Accident client
Chris is a great lawyer and the most people friendly attorney I have ever delt with. He handled my case with great attention to detail and did so in a very short period of time. He is very consice, efficient, patient and understanding. He has a strong passion for what he does and he does it well. I recommend Chris Simon as legal representation for anyone who has suffreed damages or a loss at the negligence of others. He really cares about you and your case. A Car Accident client