The Paris Bar Association opened a disciplinary investigation on Monday, September 5 against a Parisian lawyer on serious suspicions of fraudulent solicitation of victims of the Buitoni and Kinder-Ferrero health scandals, franceinfo learned from sources consistent. According to the report sent to the Bâtonnière de Paris and which franceinfo was able to consult, Me Richard Legrand and/or a third party accomplice posed on Facebook as victims contaminated by the E.coli bacterium in order to encourage real victims to contract with his office.
The Pharos internet platform of the Ministry of the Interior also received a report at the end of April concerning this lawyer. The Paris Bar does not wish to comment on a case under investigation. To date, the lawyer would have 22 clients linked to these two scandals.
It all started in March in the wake of the revelation of poisoning in children and adults who had consumed Fraich’Up pizzas from the Buitoni brand. On Facebook, the group “Typical hemolytic-uremic syndrome – Let’s get out of silence” is particularly active. Formed as an association, this group has for years brought together the families of victims infected with the bacterium Escherichia coli. With the Buitoni scandal and then the Kinder-Ferrero chocolate scandal, the group very quickly grew from 500 members to more than 2,000, including families who had recently been poisoned in search of information. Very quickly, the members of this forum are approached – most often by private messages – by profiles of people claiming to be relatives of victims of Buitoni pizzas or Kinder products.
Supposed victims also infiltrate new groups created in the spring such as “Salmonellosis Kinder April 2022” which currently has 266 participants. At the end of March, Christine Pomino, one of these dubious profiles, even created a Facebook group entitled “Collectif national entraideproceeding victim E. Coli Buitoni” which counted up to 120 participants. Common point of all these suspicious profiles: they encourage the victims to contract as quickly as possible with the firm of Richard Legrand, by advancing sometimes fallacious arguments such as the absence of fees if the collective action brought against the Nestlé and Ferrero groups were to fail. Franceinfo tried to contact Christine Pomino. Without success.
According to several members of these groups contacted by franceinfo, the real victims are the subject for several months of intensive canvassing bordering on harassment: private messages offering the services of the lawyer, proposal of online seminars led by this lawyer and his brother (doctor) on “support and legal support for victims to obtain the best compensation”, immediate reminder by telephone to contract.
Sandra* is the mother of a little girl who was hospitalized after eating a Buitoni brand pizza. At the beginning of April, she discovered on Facebook the collective created by one of these dubious profiles. She comes into contact with Christine Pomino, the administrator of the group who claims to be the mother of a girl infected with the bacteria. “She very quickly gave me the name of this lawyer, as she did with all the other mothers, telling me: ‘He is very human’. Then she invited me to a group discussion via Messenger in the presence of this lawyer and a medical expert. In the minutes following the end of this online discussion, Me Legrand calls back. Impressed by the lawyer’s responsiveness, Sandra signs a contract a few days later.
Approached in the same way, some families of victims detect an anomaly. This is the case of Jonathan*, father of a 3-year-old girl infected with salmonella after eating a Kinder Surprise. Administrator of a Facebook group, he unmasks and banishes one of these suspicious profiles in April after a private discussion. “This person pretended to be a victim but without giving any details. She went to look for all the members of the group one by one to direct them to Richard Legrand. If this lawyer is not a competent person, I find it horrible. “
Contacted by franceinfo, Me Richard Legrand denies any fraudulent steps taken by him or a third party to win customers. At this stage, justice is not seized of this case. “If the facts are proven at the end of this ethical investigation, specifies a source at the origin of the report, this lawyer risks disciplinary sanctions. Suspension or even expulsion. But criminally, the facts can be fraud, or even abuse of weakness. With possible consequences on the Buitoni procedure which has been the subject of a judicial investigation since May for manslaughter, involuntary injuries, marketing of a product dangerous to health and endangering others.
Richard Legrand has been wearing the lawyer’s robe for less than two years. He was sworn in on February 24, 2021. His firm is domiciled on the Champs-Elysées in Paris. According to the commercial register, he mainly worked in real estate in Île-de-France before embarking on a career as a lawyer. Since the revelation of the Buitoni scandal, this lawyer has shown himself a lot in the media, spontaneously offering interviews to the editorial staff during key moments in the case. He notably presented himself as one of the lawyers for the victims of the Buitoni pizzas in the show “Touche pas à mon poste” by Cyril Hanouna on C8, on April 18th. On May 10, he wrote a column widely taken up in the press, addressed to Emmanuel Macron on the Buitoni affair.
Me Richard Legrand does not seem to have any particular experience in the field of health or health. Richard Legrand’s website presents his brother, Doctor Charles Legrand, as the firm’s medical surety. A specialist in medical law and the law of forensic expertise, Charles Legrand claims to practice in hospitals. Contacted by franceinfo, the French Society of Forensic Medicine and Medical Expertise says it does not count him among its members.
*Names have been changed