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Company hit with class action suits

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Indiana Lawyer Rehearing

Two class action lawsuits have been filed against an Indianapolis firm that had offered estate planning services to people. Now, the Indiana Supreme Court is considering what happens next against the company it found a year ago had engaged in the unauthorized practice of law.

At the heart of the issue is United Financial Systems, which lost its license to operate because of an order by the state’s insurance commissioner Jan. 28. That suspension stemmed from a targeted market conduct examination the state agency began last fall and the company’s failure to submit payments. Following an Indiana Supreme Court decision last year and the company’s subsequent license suspension, there has been a growing storm against United Financial.

In State of Indiana, Ex. Rel. Indiana State Bar Association v. United Financial Systems Corp., No. 84S00-0810-MS-551, filed by the Indiana State Bar Association in 2008, the Supreme Court ruled in April 2010 that the company had engaged in UPL based on how it offered estate planning services. The court ordered that customers be notified and reimbursed, but that didn’t happen and the state’s justices in December again ordered the company to notify and refund money to those it had sold estate planning services.

The justices in January appointed former Monroe Circuit Judge Viola Taliaferro as commissioner, and after three meetings between parties she found on March 28 that United Financial had failed without good cause to pay refunds to 346 customers. The company had 15 days from the date of that order to issue refunds to those individuals.

But the two lawsuits pick up where the ISBA suit left off. The first lawsuit, Donald A. Bonnell and Wayne L. Landes v. United Financial Systems Corporation, No. 25C01-1101-PL-00051, was filed in January in Fulton County by Logansport law firm Starr Austen & Miller. A second suit is Richard L. Kennard v. United Financial Systems Corporation, No. 49C01-1103-PL-010470, filed March 16 in Marion County by law firm Cohen & Malad. The suits allege constructive fraud, contractual claim violations, conversion, and disgorgement of fees due to UPL.•

Rehearing "Court orders refunds in estate planning UPL case" IL Jan. 5-18, 2011

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  1. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

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