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Social Security, lawyer sued over benefit suspension

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — A Mingo County lawsuit may be just the first salvo in a legal battle targeting the Social Security Administration and Kentucky attorney Eric C. Conn, the very lawyer credited with winning years of disability benefits for those now caught in the middle of a sweeping fraud investigation.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Ricky Haney, of Williamson, West Virginia, who is among more than 900 people notified last week that their benefits have been suspended.

Their cases are among 1,500 under review after an Inspector General’s investigation found evidence of fraud involving four doctors used by The Conn Law Firm in Stanville, Kentucky.

Congressional investigators allege Conn relied upon those medical experts for false or fraudulent testimony, while former administrative law judge David B. Daugherty assigned those cases to himself and awarded benefits to hundreds without justification.

Haney’s lawsuit accuses Conn of negligence, malpractice and a breach of fiduciary duty. It alleges Conn acted with others to submit false records without Haney’s knowledge or consent.

“(Haney) will continue to suffer great emotional distress as a result of the defendant’s actions,” the lawsuit states.

Conn’s attorney, Kent Wicker, of Louisville, Kentucky, reviewed Haney’s claims and defended his client Thursday.

“It is disappointing that this lawsuit is directed at the wrong party,” Wicker wrote.

“Mr. Conn helped (Haney) get disability benefits. It is the government that is trying to cut them off, without even giving him a hearing first…

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