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1,300 Hoosiers eligible for United Financial restitution

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Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller says more than 1,300 Hoosiers are eligible for restitution from United Financial Systems Corp. in the wake of a court ruling against the Indianapolis-based company.

The Indiana Supreme Court ruled last year United Financial Services violated state law by selling estate plans without a license to practice law.

The court determined that United Financial and related companies were liable for refunding fees to the victims and appointed the attorney general's office to assist with the refund procedure.

Zoeller said Friday that state residents must apply for restitution from the company by Oct. 15, 2011, to qualify.

Consumers who qualify and have not received a prepaid claim card in the mail from Zoeller's office should call the attorney general's Consumer Protection Division at (317) 232-6330 or 1-800-382-5516, he said.

The Supreme Court ordered United Financial in April 2010 to cease its unauthorized law practice and reimburse clients who paid fees after June 6, 2006. The court’s order applied to 1,306 clients who collectively must be repaid more than $3 million.

The company also faces at least two class-action suits that could involve 4,000 or more Indiana clients who paid fees before June 6, 2006.

Richard Kennard filed a class-action suit March 16 in Marion Superior Court against United Financial, which in 2002 sold him a $2,500 estate-planning package, along with two annuities. Kennard is represented by Indianapolis-based law firm Cohen & Malad.

Like many United Financial clients, Kennard had a will in effect when a saleswoman visited his home in 2002. His suit claims she persuaded him to buy "inappropriate" power-of-attorney and living-will and trust documents, which were drafted by a lawyer that the firm contracted. Kennard’s probate lawyer later revised the work.

In January, a Logansport law firm also filed a class-action lawsuit against United Financial on behalf of thousands of residents for what attorneys estimate could be $10 million to $20 million in damages.

The lawsuit by Starr Austen & Miller alleges constructive fraud, contractual claim violations, conversion, and disgorgement of fees due to the unlawful practice of law. . The suit named Donald A. Bonnell of Kewanna as the sole plaintiff, but it contends a larger class of 2,000 or more people could have valid claims.

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  1. to mention the rest of Molly's experience- she served as Communications Director for the Indianapolis Department of Public Works and also did communications for the state. She's incredibly qualified for this role and has a real love for Indianapolis and Indiana. Best of luck to her!

  2. Shall we not demand the same scrutiny for law schools, med schools, heaven forbid, business schools, etc.? How many law school grads are servers? How many business start ups fail and how many business grads get low paying jobs because there are so few high paying positions available? Why does our legislature continue to demean public schools and give taxpayer dollars to charters and private schools, ($171 million last year), rather than investing in our community schools? We are on a course of disaster regarding our public school attitudes unless we change our thinking in a short time.

  3. I agree with the other reader's comment about the chunky tomato soup. I found myself wanting a breadstick to dip into it. It tasted more like a marinara sauce; I couldn't eat it as a soup. In general, I liked the place... but doubt that I'll frequent it once the novelty wears off.

  4. The Indiana toll road used to have some of the cleanest bathrooms you could find on the road. After the lease they went downhill quickly. While not the grossest you'll see, they hover a bit below average. Am not sure if this is indicative of the entire deal or merely a portion of it. But the goals of anyone taking over the lease will always be at odds. The fewer repairs they make, the more money they earn since they have a virtual monopoly on travel from Cleveland to Chicago. So they only comply to satisfy the rules. It's hard to hand public works over to private enterprise. The incentives are misaligned. In true competition, you'd have multiple roads, each build by different companies motivated to make theirs more attractive. Working to attract customers is very different than working to maximize profit on people who have no choice but to choose your road. Of course, we all know two roads would be even more ridiculous.

  5. The State is in a perfect position. The consortium overpaid for leasing the toll road. Good for the State. The money they paid is being used across the State to upgrade roads and bridges and employ people at at time most of the country is scrambling to fund basic repairs. Good for the State. Indiana taxpayers are no longer subsidizing the toll roads to the tune of millions a year as we had for the last 20 years because the legislature did not have the guts to raise tolls. Good for the State. If the consortium fails, they either find another operator, acceptable to the State, to buy them out or the road gets turned back over to the State and we keep the Billions. Good for the State. Pat Bauer is no longer the Majority or Minority Leader of the House. Good for the State. Anyway you look at this, the State received billions of dollars for an assett the taxpayers were subsidizing, the State does not have to pay to maintain the road for 70 years. I am having trouble seeing the downside.

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