ILNews

Counsel’s conflict, misconduct bar class certification in tax sale suit

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

A federal judge cited an attorney’s conflict of interest, misconduct and relative inexperience in rejecting his bid to certify a class in a lawsuit over costs of redeeming property after tax sales.

District Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson in the District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, Terre Haute Division, denied the motion for class certification in Joshua B. Crissen v. Vinod C. Gupta, et al., 2:12-cv-00355.

Crissen, who redeemed his Greene County property after it was sold at a county tax sale, sought to represent a class of people who redeemed property purchased at tax sales by defendants. He claimed redemption prices were inflated by the inclusion of notification or title costs defendants didn’t incur.

In a 35-page order, Magnus-Stinson noted Crissen’s counsel, St. Louis attorney Jesse Rochman, is the son of Barrett Rochman, a competitor of Vinod Gupta. Magnus-Stinson also noted Barrett Rochman “recently pled guilty and received a sentence of sixteen months in federal prison for entering into a scheme with former Madison County, Illinois Treasurer Fred Bathon whereby property tax sales were structured ‘in a way that eliminated competition and increased interest rates for Rochman and other tax buyers in exchange for campaign contributions.’”  

“In sum, the instigation of this lawsuit by Barrett Rochman (one of Vinod Gupta’s biggest business competitors), through Jesse Rochman, with the stated goal of gaining a competitive advantage, and counsel’s familial and attorney-client relationship with Barrett Rochman preclude any finding that counsel would adequately represent the class,” Magnus-Stinson wrote.

“While there do not appear to be any cases where courts have dealt with the issue of whether class counsel are inadequate because they have ties to the defendant’s business competitor, the Court finds that this is an ‘other matter pertinent to counsel’s ability to fairly and adequately represent the interests of the class,’” she wrote.

The order also recounts prior sanctions against plaintiff’s counsel, and the judge warned further misconduct would result in dismissal of the case. “The misconduct Mr. Crissen’s counsel have engaged in – both individually on the part of Jesse Rochman and collectively – creates a serious doubt that counsel will represent the class loyally and jeopardizes the Court’s ability to reach a just and proper outcome in the case.”

Magnus-Stinson also found that a prior class action Jesse Rochman initiated in Illinois reflected negatively his ability to adequately represent the class. Proposed as a prospective class of more than 2,100 plaintiffs alleging damages of more than $1 million, “(u)ltimately, only three class members filed claims, prompting the court ... to remark ‘I’ve got three cases, really, that, you know, would have probably been given about five minutes in a small claims court, and that’s what I have.’”

Magnus-Stinson requested a magistrate schedule a conference to set a schedule to bring Crissen’s claims to conclusion.




 

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Indiana State Bar Association

Indianapolis Bar Association

Evansville Bar Association

Allen County Bar Association

Indiana Lawyer on Facebook

facebook
ADVERTISEMENT
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. Hail to our Constitutional Law Expert in the Executive Office! “What you’re not paying attention to is the fact that I just took an action to change the law,” Obama said.

  2. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

  3. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  4. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  5. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

ADVERTISEMENT