October 14, 2009
Columbus Bar Lauds Supreme Court Decision Favoring Victims Of Trust Mill
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Alex Lagusch, 614/221.4112
Columbus, OH – The Columbus Bar Association announced Wednesday that the Supreme Court of Ohio, in a unanimous decision in Columbus Bar Assn. v. Am. Family Prepaid Legal Corp., Slip Opinion No. 2009-Ohio-5336, took a momentous step to protect Ohio’s citizens from illegal trust mills that prey upon seniors and other vulnerable individuals.
American Family Prepaid Legal Corporation (“American Family”) and its various allied entities and associates – after being pursued by the Columbus Bar since 2002 – were found to have practiced law without a license and to have used scare tactics, misinformation and false promises to induce thousands of individuals in Ohio and other states to purchase living trust packages and other estate planning documents at inflated prices. Often these legal documents were not needed or legally appropriate, and did not fulfill the purposes of the people who purchased them. As a result, the Ohio Supreme Court issued a permanent injunction to shut down their operations and penalized them with heavy fines, including a $6,387,990 sanction against American Family and others.
The Columbus Bar Association, through its Unauthorized Practice of Law Committee, brought the case against American Family in 2002, and pursued it through federal and state courts in the intervening years. “The Columbus Bar Association is committed to protecting Central Ohio’s citizens from unlawful schemes and enterprises, and we are thrilled that the Ohio Supreme Court has reaffirmed that such schemes are unacceptable and those tempted to profit by taking advantage of consumers through the unauthorized practice of law will be dealt with severely by the Court,” said Columbus Bar Association President Elizabeth Watters.
“I want to thank Porter Wright Morris & Arthur, LLP and its team of skilled lawyers – especially Joyce Edelman – who selflessly assisted the Columbus Bar on a pro bono basis. Their hard work and support was reflected in this decision, and they did a masterful job in arguing the case to the Supreme Court’s Board of Commissioners on the Unauthorized Practice of Law and the Ohio Supreme Court. The case and the decision reflect the very best aspects of the law and the legal profession at work to benefit the public and protect it from the unprincipled and the greedy.”
The Columbus Bar Association was founded in 1869. See www.cbalaw.org for more information.