11 Mar 2015 Cases

Jury Finds for Compass Lexecon Clients and Awards Huge Damages in Ponzi Scheme Trial

2 minute read


Compass Lexecon Senior Advisor Dr. Jonathan Arnold Testifies Successfully for Plaintiffs

This case involved a multi-year Ponzi-like scheme to siphon funds from life insurance companies and bank trust accounts established to fund funeral services purchased in advance of death. Compass Lexecon was retained by plaintiffs, which included life and health guarantee associations in three dozen states, as well as the Special Deputy Receiver for two life insurance companies and National Prearranged Services, Inc. Defendants in the case were multiple banks who allegedly breached their fiduciary duties as trustees of the trusts at issue by failing to properly monitor and control trust assets (a number of other parties were also sued).

The case went to trial in February against PNC Bank, which was not involved in the wrongdoing but was successor-in-interest to Allegiant Bank (which served as trustee from 1998 through 2004), and another (non-bank) party. Other parties, including other banks, settled prior to trial.

Jonathan Arnold, Senior Advisor to Compass Lexecon filed multiple reports and testified at trial that the economic losses caused by Allegiant Bank totaled $355.5 million. After a five week trial, and two days of deliberations, the jury found liability and awarded Dr. Arnold's $355.5 million damages figure to the plaintiffs against PNC Bank, plus an additional $35 million in punitive damages. The jury awarded damages of $100 million against the other remaining defendant.

Dr. Arnold worked with Compass Lexecon's President, Professor Daniel R. Fischel on the case and was also supported by a team in the Chicago office that included Neal Lenhoff, Andria van der Merwe, Ron Laschever and James Connolly, among others. The team worked closely with lead trial counsel Dan Reilly and Larry Pozner of Reilly Pozner LLP who successfully represented plaintiffs. We also worked with other attorneys from that firm including Wendy Fisher, Clare Pennington and Glenn Roper, as well as with co-counsel Chris Fuller of The Fuller Law Firm, PC.

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