20/20 (Television program). [2000-09-08--excerpt], The Survivors


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Created: 2000

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20/20 (Television program). [2000-09-08--excerpt], The Survivors
Summary: "The successful legal and political effort to gain redress for the pain of Holocaust victims and slave laborers who suffered terribly under Nazi rule is one of the crowning achievements of the 20th century. But a joint investigation by ABC News 20/20 and the New York Times found that one of the most visible attorneys leading the fight against the Swiss banks and German industry had a long history of malpractice claims and disciplinary actions. While publicly presenting himself as a champion of human rights he was neglecting the very clients he had promised to help.

"The attorney's name is Ed Fagan, and in the past few years he has traveled the world recruiting as clients some 82,000 Holocaust survivors who were horribly abused, forced into slave labor or who lost their family property and bank accounts. But a former Fagan employee reported to the Federal judge overseeing the Swiss banks case that Fagan ignored clients who called and wrote to find out if they qualified for the settlement money, citing hundreds of unopened letters and unanswered phone calls to Fagan's offices. One set of clients, Sam and Lola Rothkopf, discovered the lawyer missed the deadline to file the documents to back up their claim to a missing bank account before the Swiss Bank Commission.

"Equally disturbing, our investigation with The New York Times found five different cases in which Fagan appeared to have abandoned or neglected his existing personal injury clients as he went after the higher profile, higher fee Holocaust clients. One personal injury client who tried unsuccessfully to reach Mr. Fagan for two and a half years had never been told that his 35 million dollar lawsuit in Federal court had been thrown out.

"All this came at the time that Mr. Fagan was asking for four million dollars in fees in the Swiss bank case, more than any other attorney involved in the case. Our cameras then documented Mr. Fagan holding up the signing of an historic 5 billion dollar slave labor settlement in Berlin, while he haggled with government officials over higher attorney fees for himself and others in that case.

"The issue of attorney's fees and Mr. Fagan's in particular are sure to be contested early next year by prominent lawyers involved in the case who contend he did little to earn them."--2000 Peabody Awards entry form.

Corporate Producers: ABC News | ABC Television Network | New York Times Company

Persons Appearing: Brian Ross (Chief investigative correspondent) | Barry Meier (Reporter) | Ed Fagan (Interviewee) | Bella Ross (Interviewee) | Stephen Gillers (Interviewee) | Jane Warshaw (Interviewee) | Stephen Gillers (Interviewee) | Lola Rothkopf (Interviewee) | Minnie Kramer (Interviewee) | Reuven Ofir (Interviewee) | Eugene Liebowitz (Interviewee) | Burt Neuborne (Interviewee) | Alice Fischer (Interviewee)

Broadcast Date: 8-Sep-00

Files received: Record created from entry form by vvp on 9/16/2005. | Record updated from entry materials by AJ on 2018-11-28. | Record updated with item in hand by mlm on 2019-02-15.