When the operator of a Sarasota Florida Jackson Hewitt franchise was arrested, his massive fraud came to light. Hundreds of Jackson Hewitt customers lost money that they had invested in what appear to have been phony real estate deals and money market funds.
Vernon Litigation Group represented multiple investors who claim to have been defrauded and has filed lawsuits on behalf of the cheated investors. In all, hundreds of Jackson Hewitt customers filed similar claims. The Sarasota Courthouse faced the prospect of setting aside more than a year’s worth of courtroom time to hold a separate trial on every case. Many of the same witnesses would be called to testify about the same facts and documents in every case and the expert opinions presented in each case would be virtually identical. But unless something was done, the investors would be forced to go through costly and time-consuming individual trials.
Vernon Litigation Group, along with lawyers representing other Jackson Hewitt customers, proposed that the court manage the cases under Florida’s newly adopted Complex Litigation Rule and consolidate all the cases for a single trial on liability. The Complex Litigation Rule was designed to assist the court in managing large, time-consuming cases that involve numerous parties, present complicated legal issues or require coordination with other cases. While the Complex Litigation Rule does not specifically mention consolidated trials (consolidation is governed by a different rule), the Jackson Hewitt cases would appear to fall within the spirit and the purpose of the new rule.
Over Jackson Hewitt’s opposition, the Court ordered a single trial to determine issues relating to Jackson Hewitt’s liability. That decision will ensure consistent results in all cases, will save the public the expense of hundreds of days of court time and will save each of Vernon Litigation Group’s clients thousands of dollars in court costs.