A beef over legal fees could mean that the fate of a $10 million verdict won by a pair of Atlanta millionaires against PricewaterhouseCoopers is in greater limbo than previously thought.
According to the Fulton County Daily Report, former Georgia attorney general Michael J. Bowers and his firm, Balch & Bingham, have withdrawn as prosecutors in the case against the Big Four firm, citing nonpayment of legal fees by entrepreneurs Stiles A. Kellett Jr. and Samuel B. Kellett. The Kelletts are contesting the firm’s attempt to withdraw from the case.
The Kelletts’ new lawyer, a partner at Troutman Sanders, told the newspaper that four years of litigation has already cost the family more than $7 million in fees, though neither side is saying what portion of the $7 million has already been paid, or how much money remains in dispute.
The Kelletts and their family trusts filed a $400-million racketeering suit in 2002 against PwC and senior executives of the Mariner Health Group, a nursing-home chain that had merged with the Kelletts' own nursing-home company in 1995. While the defendants were cleared on the racketeering charges in February, a jury ruled that the accounting firm should pay the trusts $10 million for "negligent misrepresentation" in its audits.
The Kelletts based part of their suit on a series of audits that Coopers & Lybrand (which later merged with Price Waterhouse) conducted in the 1990s. A jury previously cleared all four Mariner executives and a PwC partner of any liability.
PwC has petitioned the court to set aside the verdict against the firm.
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