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Litigation Fund To Be Established For the Victims Of Michael Charles Financial & SurroGenesis

I am pleased to announce that we will be establishing a Litigation Fund on behalf of the victims of Michael Charles Financial and SurroGenesis. All donations to this fund will be used to offset the costs of litigation that will likely ensue as a result of the alleged fraudulent activities of Michael Charles Financial and SurroGenesis that has led to the embezzlement of more than $2,000,000.00 in trust funds on behalf of dozens of infertility patients, their surrogates and egg donors. The Texas law firm that many of the victims have contacted will need at least $50,000 to begin the prosecution of those culpable and we are hopeful that this Litigation Fund will go a long way to defraying the investigatory and litigation costs.

I am pleased to announce that Dr. David Smotrich of La Jolla IVF has generously stepped forward as the first donor with an initial contribution of $1,500.00. The Center For Surrogate Parenting has agreed to match Dr. Smotrich’s contribution and will contribute more as necessary. My law firm will also match Dr. Smotrich’s initial donation.

Over the next couple of days, I will post more information on the details of this fund and how you can participate.

Discussion

43 comments for “Litigation Fund To Be Established For the Victims Of Michael Charles Financial & SurroGenesis”

  • broke

    It the postal inspector and the FBI are pursuing as well, what is the purpose with this?

    • Broke,

      The Postal Inspector and the FBI are investigating whether there was criminal activity. If they find evidence of criminal wrongdoing, then they will prosecute the responsible parties. This fund is being established to pursue civil remedies against the culpable parties. The goal in a civil lawsuit is to recover monetary damages, including but not limited to the amount of funds that were misappropriated from the trust account, punitive and economic damages as well as a recovery for emotional distress.

  • BROKE TOO

    You can’t squeeze blood out of a turnip. I also think this is a waste.

    • Obviously the attorneys would not proceed if they did not believe there were sufficient assets to justify the cost of the litigation. Also, please understand that the potential defendants are not limited solely to Tonya Collins and her organizations. Finally, there may very well be insurance coverage in place to cover the damages being sought.

      If the attorneys determine that it is impractical to proceed, the funds will be returned to the donors. I do not believe in unfairly raising the hopes and expectations of those who have already been aggrieved. However, if there is any possibility to recover some if not all of the embezzled funds as well as other damages, then at least the victims will have some funding available to them to defray the costs.

  • Denise

    I think this is a wonderful idea. I comment Dr Smotrich for his donation. He is a wonderful and honorable man. Im sure he too fell victim to this horrible situation as he is the dr who many from Surrogenesis see for their procedures. The couple I am carrying for have become very close with Dr Smotrich. My IPs and myself have also falling victims of this tragic event. In this economy it is actually no surprise but I just dont understand how someone could be so greety and take from those who turned to these company for help. I do not regret going to SurroGenesis to becomea surrogate bc I met a wonderful family whom I will stay in touch with for many years but I will think of this tragety next time I decide to be a surrogate and do a little more research before choosing an agency.

  • victim

    As a victim (intended parent), I’m wondering if it would help to get some national media coverage about this catastrophe to put pressure on lawmakers, FBI, etc to move this case along and get to some resolution as soon as possible? Does anyone have strong media ties? Thoughts?

    • The media is now aware of this situation. The New York Times is investigating and the American Fertility Association issued a Press Release late today (http://tinyurl.com/c33eo2) that will be forwarded to the major media outlets tomorrow. We are also working very diligently to develop a civil case to be brought against the culpable parties. Unfortunately, there will likely be no satisfactory resolution for quite some time.

  • Cynthia

    Please explain this Andrew ” please understand that the potential defendants are not limited solely to Tonya Collins and her organizations”
    I understand raising money to help with legal fees but money is needed right now to help these surrogates out of work on bedrest and recovering from C-Sections and from being evicted from their homes and to keep their lights on and food for their children. I do not know how to help these people, can you or the other attorneys invloved set up something for those most drasticly impacted at this very moment on the basic neccesites of life such as food and shelter. The rest can come later.

    • Cynthia, that is a wonderful suggestion. The problem is trying to implement an equitable system whereby donations can be shared amongst the victims. As you can imagine, there are so many couples, surrogates and donors involved, each of whom are in various stages of the process. Some of the victims have lost their life savings and are unable to proceed, others have been abandoned in the middle of pregnancies and others have found resources to complete their arrangements.

      I will see what we can do about trying to provide some immediate relief to those most effected by this scandal. I know that my firm has offered its legal services on a pro bono basis. Agencies such as the Center for Surrogate Parenting, Extraordinary Conceptions, Prospective Families and Egg Donation, Inc. have offered their services for free or at substantial discounts to those victimized by Michael Charles Company and SurroGenesis. I will do what I can to solicit the assistance of physicians, mental health professionals and attorneys to also volunteer their time and services to help offset the losses you have suffered.

      With respect to your other inquiry, we are assessing the potential liability as well as viability of claims against third parties who may have had knowledge of the wrongdoing taking place at Michael Charles and nevertheless continued to refer clients to them as well as against those that learned of what was transpiring and failed to warn clients about their concerns. Please understand that this scandal is of such recent origin that there is still only a very limited amount of information available to us. We are doing everything we can to chase down loose ends and verify a number of allegations. Should this information bear out, there may very well be other defendants, possibly with insurance coverage available to them, whose negligence may have contributed to the damages.

  • Cynthia

    Just so you know Andrew the post above is from me the Cynthia from Surrognesis. you know one from the other comment sections defending my integrity. I think it is wonderful that the attorneys and angencies are assisting with the legal aspect. I know so many people have been negatively impacted but there is an immdiate need for these surrogates on the basics. Maybe you could come up with a criteria of the most immediate concerns like a copy of eviction notices, cut off notices. Some of these intended parents that are finacially able have stepped in and are taking care of their surrogates on their own bless them for that. Other intended parents have no resources to help becasue of what has been taken from them. These poor surrogates are just like most of us living paycheck to paycheck. So before I get blasted from everyone no I am not suggesting you send money to Surrogenesis. I am simply asking Andrew if something for the victims could be set up. I know angel food ministries is an incredible organization to help people with food maybe we could work something out with them as well for the families of surrogates. I am trying to think of everyhting I can until the legal aspects can be resolved and hope and pray that this bond insurance pays the victims. The reason I say this the assests that have been seized with the Bernie Madoff case has not come close to compensationg the victims.

    • Michael and Jocelyn

      Hi Cynthia,

      You are our case manager and I appreciate your candor and desire to help in these forums. Many of us victims are reaching out to the media. The more attention we get the better and faster those in most distress can be helped. I know the burden many carry as I have been actively communicating with those affected. I encourage you and anyone else at SurroGenesis who are “good guys” to seek out the media and tell this story. I know that I am.

      • Cynthia

        Michael and Jocelyn,
        I certainly do not feel like one of the good guys even though I know I have done nothing wrong, my heart is broken and this will haunt me forever.
        People can say what they will but it will not stop me from trying to help. I know legally with some of my cases my hands are tied because the lawyers have advised them not to speak with me and while very understandable it hurts. So I am wracking my brain to help in other ways.

        • Cynthia,

          I want to thank you again for your candor and willingness to try to assist those who have been victimized. I know it cannot be easy for you given the circumstances and the hostility. However, your outreach speaks volumes about your integrity and I hope that you are successful in helping the victims of Tonya Collins.

          • Cynthia

            Andrew can you give me any suggestions on how to help. Some of my cases are not located in California and my surrogates lawyers are not returning their calls.

          • Cynthia,

            If you want, email me the information you would like to convey along with the names of the attorneys. I will let them know that you are trying to reach them.

            Andy

          • Cynthia

            Ok Andrew I sent you an email to this email address vmfirm@vmfirm.com not sure if this is the correct email for you because when I click to email you Outlook Express comes up and will not let me proceed so I copied and pasted.

          • Cynthia, please send the email to AVorzimer@vmfirm.com. Thanks!

          • Cynthia

            ok sent it to the mail you provided.

  • CYNIC

    Hmmm… I REALLY want to know about this ‘fund’. Is this in Texas?

    Wouldn’t it be amazing if this was a scam by Tonya again.. another trust.

    Is Andrew Vorzimer an alias for Tonya Collins?

    Ponder that.

    • Laurel

      You’re such a dimwit. He is offering to give out money to the people who are hurt. He isn’t asking you or anyone here for funds. Who are you…Tonya?

      • Suspect

        This is NOT a fund for victims! It’s a fund FOR ANDREW VORZIMER AND THE TEXA$ LAW FIRM!!!!

        • I will not tolerate lies by you or anyone else on this board. Too many people have been hurt already and any effort by you or others to exacerbate the damages by making libelous claims will be removed and action taken against you. My firm is rendering its services for free. We are not accepting any payment for our services. The legal fund has been established to offset any legal costs incurred by the victims and is not earmarked for any attorney or law firm.

          If you publish any more lies on this site again, you will be banned and we will pursue you for libel. I strongly encourage you to heed my advice and not take any false comfort believing you are hiding behind a psuedonym.

          • U R Lame

            If you do not tollerate lies then half the things on this board should be removed. People are saying a lot of things they have no proof of or are lying about. Why havn’t they been repremanded. Is it because they called you out by name. I’m not saying you are doing anthing bad but look at it from other peoples views to.

  • IT’S ABOUT TIME

    “Cynic”, I understand your concern, but would not even begin to think that Andrew Vorzimer is an alias for Tonya Collins. No way, no how. She’s good, but not that good.

    Give Andrew some credit here. Maybe you should go back into the archives and read his blogs. He is DONATING his time (in case you don’t know what pro bono means). He is helping for the good of the people. He is going above and beyond by assisting in any way that he can and I think he deserves a pat on the back, not a snide remark such as yours. Chances are good that Andrew has a life outside of work (imagine that), a family, a significant other…what ever the case may be, he is devoting his precious time to keep people well informed and updated. How could you confuse two totally different people?

    Ponder that.

    • BROKE TOO

      I wouldn’t consider a lawyer spending his time on twitter and blogging (and by the way HE just started) very precious. Nothing better to do during the day?

      Have you considered that maybe he’s chasing an ambulance?

      I think his work, as well as the work of many others in this space has taken a big hit as a result of the economy.

      I’m just providing another perspective.

      • Laurel

        Maybe you should read his resume first because he isn’t that kind of lawyer. He’s a pretty famous national infertility lawyer who has won prestigious awards and has lots of famous clients. Do you work for surrrogenesisusa.com?

        • BROKE TOO

          Actually I did read his resume. You should read it again. He is a member of the Association of Business Trial Lawyers.

  • BROKE TOO

    This is very clever.

    Create a 50k fund to ‘offset’ litigation costs (where surely the lawyers will keep some % of recovered dollars and I’m certain Mr. Vorzimer has an agreement in place with Mr. Penny for some finders fee – common practice).

    Now, a few lawyers seed the fund, then create a big media parade and then get the public to fill it up. Now the lawyers have money to litigate and then maybe recover some of the money for the victims.

    Either way the lawyers have made out like bandits. This smells of a bailout for them. Very clever indeed.

    My Vorzimer has been doing all of this investigative research not to ‘spread the word’, but rather to create outrage inside the press and seed the ‘litigation’ dollars.

    This is a common trial lawyer tactic. Make no mistake. Shame.

    I think ANY money raised should be earmarked for the victims and not for litigation PERIOD.

    • Laurel

      You must be Tonya right? What could you be scared of that you’d go off unhinged like this.Unless you’re afraid of these lawyers winning.

      • BROKE TOO

        You miss the point. The government will go after Tonya and bring her to justice. Mr. Vorzimer is trying to bring others into the fray by establishing culpability.

        So to make it plain, they are trying to make the employees, fertility clinics, doctors and anyone else who was associated pay. It’s a witch hunt.

        My beef is that massive amounts of dollars are going to be spent on this wild goose chase whilst the IP’s/Surrogates are getting no relief.

        ANY dollars donated should go to them. Get it?

    • Michael

      I’ve actually spoken with Andrew on several occasions and NEVER has he tried to solicit his services to me for any kind of recompense. If not for his blog many of us victims would not know the truth, and certainly not as soon as we did. Personally I have no problem if he and Sterling are compensated, nor do I believe for a second they are motivated only by money. Oh, and I’m not hiding behind internet anonymity.

      -Michael Materie

      • BROKE TOO

        Fair enough, I get your position.

        Let me pose a hypothetical scenario. Suppose $100k was donated over the course of the next few weeks to this fund.

        Should those funds go to pursue investigative litigation or should they go to the victims on a prioritized basis?

      • BROKE TOO

        Point taken.

        Let me pose a hypothetical. Suppose over the course of a few weeks $100k is donated by the public.

        Should those funds go to investigative litigation or to the victims on a prioritized basis?

      • BROKE TOO

        How would see this money spent, suppose it was $100k.

        Spend it on litigation or relief to the victims?

  • Rhonda

    Surrogates or parents~

    Do any of you who had a bounced check still have the check, or a legal copy of it?

    I have mine. It might be interesting to compare account numbers on the checks.

    Mine was drawn on BofA at Fort Worth (although the Address for MC written on the checks was still the Tully Rd. address)and the account number is 488016017531. The signature is a completely unledgible scribble that looks nothing like a name at all. The memo line has an “account” number on it.

    This was no individual escrow account….

  • Michelle

    Wow! The last few comments on this blog have blown me away. I think a lot of us just feel frustrated, hurt, and just don’t know who to trust. My husband and I have never met our lawyer, anyone from MCIFHG, or our coordinator from Surrogenesis face to face. We have done business over the phone and by email. So we are very paranoid about who we associate by email and by phone now. But we do feel we need to be very careful about what we blog on this site. Our dreams of having a baby have been shattered. Our journey now has been to try and recover our savings. We always pondered the idea of adoption, but because of this fraudulent activity, we don’t think adoption is a safer route either.

    • Michelle,

      I can understand your frustration and distrust. Please understand however that the overwhelming number of professionals involved in this field are ethical, committed to helping their patients and well-intended. The fiasco with SurroGenesis and Michael Charles is aberrational. Sadly, in any industry there will be liars and scoundrels and when incidents like this happen, the entire industry is tainted.

      My heart breaks for people like you. It is one of the reasons that so many industry professionals are stepping forward and reaching out to help. We have dedicated our careers to assisting couples realize their dreams of having families and do not take kindly when events like this happen because it is an anathema to everything we believe in.

      I completely understand your cynicism at this moment. However, please do not allow that to deter you from pursuing your dream. While it may take some time before we know if there is a realistic chance of recovering some of your funds, there are a number of professionals who will step forward to assist you by volunteering their time and services so that you can proceed with having a child. If you would like to meet or arrange a telephonic consultation, please let me know. As I have posted previously, I am doing this work on a pro bono basis. I will reach out to other professionals, including physicians, psychologists, attorneys as well as the surrogate and egg donor communities to solicit their assistance on an altruistic basis. While I cannot make any promises, I think I have a pretty good sense of this industry and I am confident we can find people willing to come forward and volunteer their time and services so that your dreams will not remain shattered.

      Please do not be too discouraged. If we can help, let us know.

      Andy

  • Theresa

    Sounds like attorney Vorzimer struck a nerve with you Broke2 and you’re afraid. I think you must be part of Surrogenesis to be so scared. I find it comforting that Vorzimer is confident enough to keep letting you pist you’re attacks with out banning you. I guess he is pretty confident in what he’s doing and not scared of your baseless claims as you hide behind an anonymous user name. I wonder who I should trust. A lawyer working for free who iss trying to help us or some anonymous person trying to stop us from getting justice.

  • broke

    Cynthia

    You are one of the few with direct contact with the the worst sufferers here; thepregnant surrogates. One thing toucan do to help is to reach out to churches wherethe surrogates lives. They might be able to help the surrogates. As far as the ip’s, were just screwed ATM. Hurt frustrated and angry…. We are taking care of our surrogate the best we can. But I know there are others who can’t….

    • Cynthia

      Broke,
      That is a good suggestion as far as the churches I will explore that route immediately. Thank You so much for trying to take care of your surrogate the best you can with all that you have financially suffered. Those that understandably cannot I will try to get your surroagte some community relief if I can.

    • Susan and Shirley Jansen

      Those of you who live in California need to know about the AIM program. The acronym stands for ACCESS FOR INFANTS AND MOTHERS.It provides insuance for pregnant women who enroll up to the 30th week of pregnancy. Surrogates whose family income is not less than $39,000 or more that $45,ooo for a family of 3 are accepted. Care is provided through Anthem Blue Cross EPO, Kaiser Permanente or Healthnet depending upon where the mother resides. More information of enrolling is available on the internet. It costs $50 to apply and an addition $400 for care ’till mother and child are released from the care of the OB. I beleive ALL NEEDED HEALTH CARE is covered whether on not it relates to the pregnancy. We have enrolled the wonderful young lady who is carrying our little boy and will provide her with everything she was promised no matter what sacrafices we need to make to do so. We wish you all well

  • Angela

    Cynthia,

    I am so thankful for Andy Vorzimer’s blog updates & extensive help throughout this whole situation. With everything going on and the lawyers that are involved – it’s hard to know who to trust anymore.

    You have been my case manager through Surrogenesis & I can honestly say that through the process (although mine has been short thus far) I felt that you honestly cared for me & my well being. When the news broke about what was going on – my lawyer’s response was for me to immediately discontinue contact with Surrogenesis & the employees & not to trust anything. I’m relieved to read your posts on this blog and I’m comforted knowing that you are sincere in all your efforts to help. Thank you Cindy.

    I will continue to pray for all of the victims & believe that God will provide for all of us.

    • Cynthia

      Thank you Angela you do not know how much that means to me. Most times I do not know if I am helping or hurting by posting here. So if I am causing more pain and anger please let me know everyone and I will quit posting and contimue to try and help from the sidelines.

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