March 10, 2020
Reilly LLP’S Clients Obtain $7.1 M Attorneys’ Fees Award
In an order issued on February 21, Senior U.S. Judge E. Richard Webber of the Eastern District of Missouri in St. Louis awarded attorneys’ fees in the amount of $7,005,337 and costs of $139,164 to Reilly LLP’s clients. The ruling came on the heels of a $99,497,290 judgment entered by the court on the underlying merits of this fiduciary trust claim against PNC Bank N.A.

Reilly represented Plaintiffs Jo Ann Howard and Associates P.C., the Special Deputy Receiver of National Prearranged Services, Inc. (NPS); the National Organization of Life and Health Insurance Guaranty Associations; and the individual state life and health insurance guaranty associations of Arkansas, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas with regard to a multi-state fraudulent scheme perpetrated by NPS, a Missouri-based seller of preneed funeral contracts. The Plaintiffs proved that the trust department of Allegiant Bank, PNC’s predecessor, breached its fiduciary duties to thousands of Missouri consumers by failing to protect the assets of multiple preneed funeral trusts that were held by the bank.

In his Order awarding attorneys’ fees, Judge Webber relied upon his liability findings in the underlying judgment: “The court finds this case falls within the narrow exception for awarding attorneys’ fees. Specifically, Missouri courts have applied an intentional misconduct exception to non-declaratory judgment actions when the party against whom the fees were awarded engaged in intentional conduct that was spiteful, fraudulent, or groundless.”

“Our clients are pleased which is what matters most. We think it’s a fair and reasonable award under the unique circumstances of this case,” said Daniel Reilly, founding partner Reilly LLP. Judge Webber determined that his previous ruling supports a finding of “special circumstances sufficient” to award attorney fees to the plaintiffs. Judge Webber also found that “the use of numerous attorneys and professional staff was warranted given the magnitude and complexity of the plaintiffs’ cause of action and PNC’s vigorous defense.”

The Reilly LLP Team included: Daniel M. Reilly, Clare S. Pennington, Michael P. Robertson, John M. McHugh, Robert J. Kelly, Larry S. Pozner, Farrell A. Carfield, Tony Giacomini, Stephen Segall, and Maurice B. Graham of Gray, Ritter & Graham in St. Louis.

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