A week after a bizarre court hearing where opposing attorneys took turns questioning one another on the witness stand, Hamilton County Judge Steve Nation ruled Friday that the heirs of former Conseco Inc. executive Lawrence Inlow failed to justify their attempt to remove Cincinnati-based Fifth Third Bank as the personal representative of the estate.
Nation could “find no wrongdoing or improper conduct on the part of the Successor Personal Representative [Fifth Third] or their attorneys,” he wrote in his ruling.
On July 16, Nation listened to the Inlow heirs’ charge that Fifth Third and its attorneys were hostile to the heirs and were defrauding them by prolonging the case and racking up fees of more than $2.2 million.
Inlow’s estate was worth $180 million when he was accidentally killed by a helicopter rotor in 1997. He was chief counsel for Carmel-based Conseco, a life and health insurer that has since changed its name to CNO Financial Group Inc.
The heirs—Jason, Jeremy and Sarah Inlow—are represented by Indianapolis law firm Frank & Kraft P.C. Fifth Third is represented by Indianapolis law firm Hall Render Killian Heath & Lyman P.C.
Nation took both firms to task for name calling and making baseless accusations.
“The continuation of name calling and accusations is not in the benefit of the clients and obscures the remaining legal issues,” he wrote. “Many of the accusations that have been made public have later been shown to be without merit and groundless. Such comments have only served to fuel the tension in this cause and have no legitimate place in a court of law.”
Requests for comment from both law firms were not immediately returned Friday afternoon.
The Inlow heirs have objected to Hall Render’s fees since 2004, around the same time the bulk of the estate funds were disbursed. The Inlows have refused to pay nearly $761,000—more than the $600,000 they say remains in the estate.