Trial Alleging Business Fraud Should Be Lively, Even If Much is Off Limits
Health Career Agents (HCA) markets business opportunities to individuals looking to start their own recruiting firms as "headhunters" for hospitals and other care providers. HCA suggests that it can teach folks to earn hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, but entry into the program isn't cheap. A typical client pays $29,900 for HCA's expertise. More than a few of those folks have left unsatisfied.
Since 2006 at least a dozen people have filed complaints against HCA with the Missouri Attorney General's Office. Nine individuals have filed suit against HCA and/or Marchant-Calsyn in St. Louis County Circuit Court. The firm has also generated plenty of chatter in recent years on the Web site scam.com
In Schwarz's lawsuit (which is the first of the cases against HCA to go to trial) the plaintiff alleges that Marchant-Calsyn denied having any felony conviction prior to Schwarz investing $26,900 with HCA. Had he known that Marchant-Calsyn (then using the name "Marchant") served two years in federal prison for dealing LSD in the mid-1990s, Schwarz argues, he never would have gone into business with the man.
The fate of several similar lawsuits against HCA now hinge on whether a St. Louis County jury buys Schwarz's argument and -- to a certain extent -- whether the plaintiff can document a pattern of questionable business practices. Based on several pretrial rulings last week, Schwarz and his Clayton attorney, Jonathan Andres, have their work cut out for them.
Judge Robert Cohen has barred any mention in the courtroom of the other lawsuits or complaints made against Health Career Agents and/or Brian Marchant-Calsyn. Also banned is any mention of Marchant-Calsyn's previous business, the now defunct website myinjuryclaim.com.
In 2000 the website landed in the Wall Street Journal when an attorney consulting Marchant-Calsyn on the Internet project accused him of "illegal and unethical" trade practices for overstating the site's abilities and attempting to franchise the business for $25,000 despite the company's unproven track record.
Also off-limits for Schwarz and his attorney is any mention of Marchant-Calsyn's involvement as an employee of S&K Group. In 1996 the Federal Trade Commission filed suit against St. Louis-based S&K, charging it with running a "false and misleading" sales practice that charged people $12,900 to learn how to become self-employed consultants who could make $150,000 a year. Few, if any, clients ever made anything approaching that amount.
More recently Marchant-Calsyn has earned the ire of a few of his Town & Country neighbors and alderman John Hoffmann. In 2006 Marchant-Calsyn bought a $1.7 million home in the west St. Louis County suburb and promptly angered nearby residents when he built a large fence and attempted to erect a driveway gate that neighbors claimed violated their property easements.
Now you know more than the jury ever will. More to come as the trial transpires