July 10, 2019
REILLY POZNER OBTAINS $102 MILLION JUDGMENT IN BANK TRUSTEE BREACH OF DUTY CASE
Reilly Pozner won $102 million in damages in a bank trustee breach of duty case over the mishandling of insolvent National Prearranged Services Inc. (NPS) funeral funds. The case was brought against PNC Bank by Jo Ann Howard and Associates, P.C., the Special Deputy Receiver, a group of state guaranty associations and its national organization, the National Organization of Life and Health Insurance Guaranty Associations (NOLHGA). The case arose out of a nationwide Ponzi scheme by NPS, a Missouri-based seller of pre-need funeral contracts.
“We sought recovery for losses to the trust, pre-judgment interest and punitive damages and the Court awarded a substantial amount for each of those elements of damage totaling more than $100 million,” said Dan Reilly, of Colorado-based Reilly Pozner, who serves as lead counsel for the plaintiffs. “This was a true team effort, starting with our clients who have been unwavering in their effort to recover the losses that resulted from the bank trustee’s failure to meet its fiduciary duties to protect the trust funds.”
The judgment was issued in a Missouri Federal Court on behalf of plaintiffs, against Defendants National City Bank, N.A., and PNC Bank N.A., in the amount of $72,287,615 in damages to the Trusts, $14,847,678 in pre-judgment interest, and $15,000,000 in punitive damages for a total of $102,135,293.
The plaintiffs asserted that Allegiant Bank, a trustee of National Prearranged Services Inc.’s fraudulent pre-need funeral fund breached multiple trustee duties in failing to exercise the required control over the trust, protect its assets and keep adequate records of its activities and by relinquishing control of the trusts’ pre-need assets to NPS and the individuals who owned and controlled NPS. Six of the individuals were criminally indicted, all were sentenced, and served time in prison.
In 2009, the Special Deputy Receiver, NOLHGA, and multiple state guaranty associations filed the dispute against 35 defendants including nine banking and accounting firms, and multiple individuals. All of the original defendants either settled or were dismissed except PNC which was sued as successor to Allegiant Bank.
The ruling was made by Senior United States District Judge E. Richard Webber of the of the Eastern District of Missouri who presided over the five-week trial which was completed in March, 2019.
The closing arguments on behalf of the plaintiffs were presented by Daniel Reilly and Clare Pennington. The Reilly Pozner Trial Team included: Larry Pozner, Michael Robertson, John McHugh, Robert Kelly, Farrell Carfield, Tony Giacomini, Stephen Segall and St. Louis local counsel Marcy Graham. The trial team was supported by lead paralegal Mitzi Burkitt, and paralegals Autumn Blesh and Brandie Burchette. Kyle Loving and Vera Lucero provided graphic design and visual strategy support and Colin Pitet served as the team’s in-trial presentation technician.