Roth estate hit with $11-million claims from Gallagher lawyers - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Roth estate hit with $11-million claims

Roth estate hit with $11-million claims from Gallagher lawyers

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”Very complicated.” That's how Judicial Clerk and Black Hawk County Probate Court Referee, Becky Zoll, describes the case involving the estate of deceased Waterloo attorney, David Roth. Zoll says the Roth probate is unlike anything she has ever seen. 

David Roth was President of the Gallagher, Langlas & Gallagher law firm when he died late last year. He took his own life in September, 2014, amid allegations of fraud and cheating numerous law firm clients out of millions of dollars. Roth is alleged to have stolen money from client lawsuit settlements and payouts from insurance cases.  

The FBI is investigating the case, but, has issued no public statement on the status of its investigation

Alleged victims have been filing claims against the Roth estate for several months now. Generally, the Probate Court allows four months for claims to be filed after the estate is opened and notices published. That means the four-month filing deadline in this case is March 7. 

However, Probate Referee Zoll says she always continues to accept claims against an estate, as long as an estate remains open. Because the Roth case is so complicated, Zoll told KWWL news she expects that estate to remain open for quite some time.

The four newest filings against the estate come from two lawyers of the Gallagher, Langlas & Gallagher law firm. George Weilein and Tim Boller both filed two, $11-million claims against the Roth estate Thursday in Waterloo. 

It's anticipated as many as 100 claims may ultimately be filed against the Roth estate. Prior to the $11-million claims filed Thursday, other claims totaled an estimated $10,740, 422.  

Wednesday, three other Gallagher lawyers, Tom Langlas, Edward Gallagher, III and Thomas Verhulst filed individual claims against the Roth estate totaling $286.000. The claim from Edward Gallagher, III, is for $ 129,281. The Thomas Verhulst claim is for $98,417, and the Tom Langlas claim totals $58,307. 

Two other Cedar Valley area lawyers, Karen Thalacker and Melissa Timmermans, also filed a claim this week, but did not attach a dollar amount.

One of the earliest claims against the Roth estate came from the Revocable Trust of Edward Gallagher, Junior. He is the senior partner of Gallagher, Langlas & Gallagher. His claim is for $121,418. 

Claims against estates are often settled through a negotiation process within the Probate Court. But, lawyers familiar with probate court believe the Roth estate will likely deny the claims filed against it. That would force alleged victims to prove their claims beyond the Probate Court, sending cases to actual trial in the Iowa District Court. In its own court filings, 

The Gallagher, Langlas & Gallagher law firm has denied any knowledge of Mr. Roth's alleged wrongdoing. But, the Private Corporation faces legal action itself in connection with the Roth case. 

Gallagher, Langlas & Gallagher has hired the law firm of Lederer Weston Craig of Cedar Rapids and Des Moines to represent the interests of Gallagher, Langlas & Gallagher, PC and its lawyers. 

As previously reported by KWWL, Lederer Weston Craig has asked the court to combine all of the claims in the Roth case. The law firm wants the court to consolidate all pending litigation into one case.

As also previously reported on KWWL-TV and, several of the Gallagher lawyers have left the firm for other law offices, and the future of the once prestigious law office appears to be very much in doubt.

A key factor in the court battle will be the court's eventual decision concerning the professional liability insurance purchased by the Gallagher law firm. Court documents indicate Gallagher, Langlas & Gallagher, a Private Corporation, may have insurance coverage up to $4-million per claim, with a maximum payout of $5,000,000 a year.  

Professional liability insurance is like malpractice practice insurance for lawyers, but, it is not required by Iowa law.

But, the liability insurance company, Minnesota Lawyers Mutual, has already filed with the court, asking that the liability policies be denied, claiming they were fraudulently obtained. The insurance carrier will try to prove Mr. Roth applied for the liability insurance, but, may have lied on the application. 

One of the key questions will be when the alleged illegal activity began. If illegalities are proven, did they begin before or after Minnesota Lawyers Mutual approved the liability insurance for the Gallagher law firm

Minnesota Lawyers Mutual has also raised questions about a renewal of the liability policies and if Mr. Roth was truthful in that renewal process for the liability insurance.

In its court filings, Minnesota Lawyers Mutual claims it discovered Mr. Roth held what it calls a 'secret bank account' at a Waverly branch of the Veridian Credit Union, Iowa's largest credit union, based in Waterloo. Veridian is also one of the some four-dozen alleged victims. Veridian has already filed several claims against the Roth estate.

The largest single claim so far against the Roth estate is $1.89 million. That claim was filed just days ago by VerJean and Eugene Walther of Waverly, in connection with an financial settlement with the State of Iowa. The Walther's were injured in a crash involving an Iowa State Trooper in 2012. Roth represented the Walther's, who now claim the money is missing.

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