Keller Rohrback, LLP and two partners face a fraud and legal malpractice suit over alleged misconduct surrounding purchase of bank.
Eagan Avenatti, LLP and Osborn Machler have filed a lawsuit against Seattle law firm Keller Rohrback, LLP and two of its partners Robert S. Over and Glen P. Garrison claiming they forged an escrow agreement in connection with the 2012 purchase of HomeTown National Bank and made subsequent efforts to cover up its misconduct and mislead federal authorities.
One of the oldest and largest law firms in the region, Keller Rohrback is known for pursing high-profile cases such as the Volkswagen emissions scandal.
The lawsuit, filed by Newport Beach, California attorneys Scott H. Sims and Andrew D. Stolper along with Seattle-based attorney Simeon J. Osborn, alleges that Keller Rohrback lied to the 11 investors involved in the bank purchase, and intentionally deceived them by altering an escrow agreement they had signed.
The firm, according to the suit, then attempted to have the plaintiffs mislead authorities when federal regulators began to uncover the firm’s misdeeds.
“The list of misconduct, misbehaviors, falsities and negligence alleged against Keller Rorhback is long and we want to ensure they are held accountable,” said Sims.
According to the complaint, Keller Rohrback drafted an escrow agreement providing the plaintiffs were purchasing the bank along with Fairplay, Financial Inc., but after plaintiffs signed the escrow agreement, Keller Rohrback secretly altered the agreement to delete Fairplay as a purchaser of the bank.
The complaint further alleges this change was directly contrary to plaintiffs’ understanding that Fairplay was a purchaser alongside them and could purchase the bank in its entirety in a short time span. The firm then proceeded to ensure the transaction closed under the forged escrow agreement, claim the attorneys.
“The evidence will show that Keller Rohrback not only forged the escrow agreement, but the firm continued to deceive the plaintiffs repeatedly,” said Sims. “The plaintiffs justifiably relied on the lawyers and they took advantage of them.”
Keller Rohorback then, as the fraud and
legal malpractice suit states, attempted to cover up its fraud by suggesting the plaintiffs obstruct justice in connection with responding to subpoenas from the Office of the Comptroller of Currency (OCC). Plaintiffs allege Keller Rohrback did so by providing scripted false advice on how to respond to the OCC, which included attaching for production to the OCC the forged escrow agreement, which Plaintiffs had never seen, and telling them the firm assumed it was the only escrow agreement – a statement the firm knew to be false.
Additionally, the firm failed to obtain a conflict waiver related to its partner Robert Over holding a $100,000 interest in Fairplay at the time of the Bank transaction, the complaint states.
“For a firm that claims to honor the fundamentals of hard work, honesty and zealous advocacy, they certainly did not honor these attributes where it involves the plaintiffs and we are filing this claim to bring their forgery and misconduct to light and assure the plaintiffs are paid the appropriate damages as a result,” said Osborn.
The 11 plaintiffs involved in the lawsuit include, Washington State residents Alan Chaffee, Jeanne DeMund, Yuping Chen, Matthew Wahlman, Ash Hanlon, Mike Scheffler, Michail Wilson, Nathaniel Heathcote, Peter Heathcote, Todd Hanger and Illinois State resident Laird Devick. According to the complaint, as a direct result of Keller Rohrback’s misrepresentations, plaintiffs have suffered actual damages in an amount in excess of $3.73 million, the exact amount to be proven at trial.
Originally posted by Eagan Avenatti, LLP and Osborn Machler on PRNewswire.com.
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