Personal injury attorney, George Constantine, and orthopedic surgeon, Andrew Dowd, were convicted by a Manhattan federal jury on Friday, December 16, for knowingly profiting from a $31 million personal injury litigation scam.[1]

Following a three-week trial, Dowd and Constantine were both convicted on counts of conspiracy, wire fraud and mail fraud. The jury found Dowd participated in a conspiracy to conduct fraudulent surgeries with Constantine and another lawyer, Marc Elefant, who pled guilty. Elefant admitted he found out in 2017 many of his clients had been subject to unnecessary medical procedures, but he continued to pursue their personal injury cases anyway.[2]

Between 2013 and 2018, Constantine and Dowd relied on “runners” who were paid cash kickbacks to recruit plaintiffs and stage or falsely claim trip-and-fall accidents in the New York City area. Accidents were commonly staged in front of cellar doors, near cracks in concrete sidewalks, and purported “potholes” in front of commercial establishments such as gas stations, diners and other businesses.[3] The runners would coach recruits on how to stage trip-and-fall “accidents” and fake their injuries.[4] Constantine or Elefant would even direct recruits to go to a location and deliberately fall.[5]

After staging an accident, recruits were directed to go to a hospital to obtain discharge papers and were brought to Constantine’s office. Constantine would then meet briefly with them, neglecting to ask basic questions like the location of the accident, and would proceed to file fraudulent lawsuits on their behalf against the owners of the accident sites, their insurance companies, or both.[6]

One of Constantine’s clients admitted to faking her injury on the stand at Constantine’s trial. Jurors  watched a surveillance video of her staging a fall over a grate in front of a small store and lying on the ground before the store owner came out and gave her assistance.

The recruits would then meet with Dowd and other chiropractors and doctors who would subject them to medically unnecessary surgeries to increase the value of their fraudulent lawsuits. Dowd, specifically, did not perform physical exams on his recruits and instead fabricated his medical reports to make it seem the patients were injured. Dowd even incentivized recruits to undergo arthroscopic knee and shoulder surgeries whether or not they were legitimately needed by paying them approximately $1,000 after each operation. Dowd often performed these operations within one to two weeks of his first meeting with the recruits.

Litigation funding companies involved in the scheme subsided the medical procedures even when the recruit had medical coverage. The funding companies would also pay referral fees ranging from $1,000 to $2,500 to the doctors and lawyers involved for each recruit who signed a funding agreement.[7] Recruits were charged such incredibly high interest rates that the majority of the proceeds awarded in the lawsuits were often paid to the funding companies. These recruits were overwhelmingly poor, recruited from homeless shelters and often suffering from drug addiction.[8]

Over the course of their scheme, Constantine filed nearly 200 fraudulent lawsuits, making more than $5 million in contingent settlement fees.[9] Dowd performed nearly 300 medically unnecessary surgeries, receiving approximately $10,000 per surgery and more than $3.2 million throughout the entire process.[10] After Friday’s verdict, two lawyers, two doctors, a litigation funder, two fraud ringleaders and three “runners” who recruited plaintiffs have been found guilty in this scheme.[11]

Schemes like the one involving Constantine and Dowd cost businesses and customers billions every year. In 2022, the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud estimates that property and casualty insurance fraud costs businesses and consumers approximately $45 billion yearly.[12]

If you have any questions about the matters in this Legal Alert or any other legal issues, please contact Abbie Eliasberg Fuchs, at or (212) 313-5408; Ross B. Hofherr at (212) 313-5482 /; or Dominic Conoshenti at (212) 313-5436 /

This alert does not purport to be a substitute for advice of counsel on specific matters.

Harris Beach has offices throughout New York State, including Albany, Buffalo, Ithaca, Long Island, New York City, Rochester, Saratoga Springs, Syracuse and White Plains, as well as New Haven, Connecticut, Washington, D.C. and Newark, New Jersey.

[1] DOJ Press Release (12/16/2022)

[2] DOJ Press Release (10/24/2022)

[3]DOJ Press Release (12/16/2022)

[4] DOJ Press Release (10/24/2022)

[5] DOJ Press Release (10/20//2021)

[6] DOJ Press Release (10/24/2022)

[7] DOJ Press Release (10/20//2021)

[8] DOJ Press Release (12/16/2022)

[9] DOJ Press Release (12/16/2022)

[10] DOJ Press Release (12/16/2022)


[12] Coalition Against Insurance Fraud (2022)