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A Tampa law firm that has garnered millions of dollars in neglect and abuse settlements and lawsuits against nursing homes in Florida and around the country is now on the defense end of a suit that contends the firm knowingly violated Tennessee law regarding contingency fees.

The lawsuit against the firm, Wilkes & McHugh, was filed in December in U.S. District Court in the Western District of Tennessee.

Plaintiff Debbie Howard hired the firm several years ago to sue a Memphis nursing home in the death of her grandmother for medical negligence, according to the 38-page complaint.

The class-action claim states Wilkes & McHugh engaged in an unlawful scheme to collect 40 percent or 45 percent in contingency fees of settlement amounts, although Tennessee law caps fees to 33 and 1/3 percent in medical malpractice cases. The complaint says the law firm charged the higher and unlawful contingency fee to hundreds of clients in Tennessee.

“Although it has never actually tried any of these nursing home lawsuits in Tennessee, defendant Wilkes & McHugh has reaped tens of millions of dollars in legal fees from settlements ... paid by nursing home defendants to their Tennessee clients during the Class period,” according to the complaint.


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