Update. March 29, 2012
TEXARKANA – After four (4) years of extensive discovery, the Plaintiffs voluntarily filed a Motion to Dismiss their class action claims against CLA Estate Services, Inc., CLA USA, Inc. and other CLA Entities. On March 5, 2012, the Honorable Chief U.S. District Judge, P.K. Holmes, III, granted the Plaintiff’s Motion to Dismiss.
On December 19, 2007, James P. Birts, Nate S. Orben and Darlene M. Orben filed a class action suit in the Circuit Court of Miller County, Arkansas against several CLA companies, including CLA USA, Inc. and CLA Estate Services, Inc. This lawsuit was later removed to the United States District Court for the Western District of Arkansas – Texarkana Division.
The lawsuit makes several allegations regarding the business practices of CLA Estate Services and CLA USA. It is important to note that information outlined in a Complaint are merely allegations and have not been proven to be accurate or true. CLA Estate Services and CLA USA, along with the other named CLA entities and associated individuals, denied any wrongdoing and vigorously defended the allegations as being unfounded and inaccurate assertions as to their business practices.
After conducting extensive discovery, it was determined that the allegations set forth in the Complaint were not verified and without merit. For example, in his deposition, Mr. Birts was asked whether he was aware of the allegations set forth in the complaint, Mr. Birts indicated that he had not reviewed the complaint and was unsure what the allegations were. Mr. Birts provided no testimony to support the allegations. When asked whether he was satisfied with his overall estate planning, he stated that he was happy with it and was still using it. In September 2009, nearly two years after the lawsuit was filed, Mr. Birts signed a CLA annual review form indicating that he was satisfied with the services being provided by CLA.
The Orbens’ testimony revealed that they were also unsure about the allegations made against the CLA Defendants claiming that was the attorney’s job. When the Orbens were specifically asked about the CLA Defendants, they said that they had no idea why CLA was in the lawsuit and that they were unaware of any harm that CLA had caused them. The Orbens acknowledged in their depositions and in their verified admissions that they never actually had any business dealings with any of the CLA entities and had no idea who CLA was or why they were included in the lawsuit. On May 20, 2011, since the Orbens never had any business dealings with any CLA entity, the Orbens voluntarily dismissed their claims against the CLA entities.
In March, 2012, Mr. Birts, through his attorneys, voluntarily filed a Motion to Dismiss his claims. The Judge granted the Motion to Dismiss on March 5, 2012. This in effect ended the class action lawsuit against all the CLA entities.
When asked about this case, CLA’s founder, Charles Loper, stated: “It’s been a long four years navigating the complexity of the legal system to prove our innocence. It was eye-opening that anyone can say anything in a complaint based solely on assumptions and without any proof. But in the end, justice did prevail. We pride ourselves on providing excellent service to our clients and feel vindicated that this case was voluntarily dismissed without any finding of fault or settlement. It’s now time to move forward and continue to help our clients achieve their goals.”