Northern Ky. court awards $573 million to sisters in Griffin estate suit; largest judgment in state history

CRESTVIEW HILLS, Ky. (July 31, 2017) — Dressman Benzinger LaVelle announced today that the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed the judgment of the District Court, awarding their clients over $573 million. It is the largest judgment of its kind in Kentucky history.

DBL Law represented Linda Holt, Judith Prewitt, and Cynthia Roeder, three of the twelve children of John L. Griffin and Rosellen Griffin. Mr. Griffin founded Griffin Industries, Inc., a rendering company, in the 1940s.  Before 1983, the parents’ wills left all stock in Griffin Industries to their children equally. In 1983, however, Mr. Griffin suffered a debilitating stroke. The two oldest brothers, Dennis Griffin and John M. Griffin, used their father’s incapacity to transfer the great majority of their parents’ stock to themselves and their brothers.

Holt, Prewitt, Roeder, and a fourth sister, Elizabeth Osborn, filed suit against Dennis and John Griffin in U.S. District Court in Covington. After a bench trial, Judge William O. Bertlesman issued an opinion awarding over $573 million to the DBL clients, and an additional $12 million to Elizabeth Osborn.

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the District Court’s judgment in all respects. It quoted the District Court to say, “Before this Court is an extraordinary case, spanning decades, in which defendants repeatedly and flagrantly violated the fiduciary duties they owed to their sisters, who reposed great trust in their brothers.” 

Kent Wicker, one of the attorneys for DBL Law who tried the case, stated, “This is a historic victory. We are pleased to have been able to assist our clients in obtaining justice and seeing that their parents’ wishes were carried out.”

Linda Holt said, “Our parents wanted to treat all of their children equally. I am glad that now, finally, their wishes will be fulfilled.”

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