A Florida Circuit Court jury ruled in favor of the estate of a philanthropist in a case involving BDO’s audits of a defunct real estate firm.
They awarded the estate and foundation of George Batchelor $55 million in punitive damages and $36 million in compensatory damages on Monday, according to the Miami Herald.
The case involved Grand Court Lifestyles, a Boca Raton manager and owner of senior citizen communities, whose auditing firm was BDO Seidman. Grand Court filed for bankruptcy in 2000 after going public in 1996.
Batchelor, a Florida philanthropist and aviation pioneer, invested in Grand Court. He died in 2002 and his estate sued BDO, claiming the auditor had helped cover up problems with Grand Court’s financial statements.
The estate’s attorneys claimed that Grand Court had gone opinion shopping after the real estate company was unable to get a clean opinion from its original auditor, Deloitte & Touche.
BDO said it planned to appeal the verdict, claiming there were “numerous reversible errors made by the court during this trial.”
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