|Glen Rollins (right) and other members|
of the Rollins family in court.
A trial court had dismissed the grandchildren's claims, but the appellate court found the case presented factual issues that should go to a jury, according to an article by Alyson Palmer at dailyreportonline.
The grandchildren are suing their father, Gary W. Rollins, and their uncle, R. Randall Rollins, who head Orkin Pest Control and its parent company, Atlanta-based Rollins Inc. Gary and Randall Rollins are the sons of the late O. Wayne Rollins, founder of Rollins Inc. O. Wayne Rollins started the family's business empire with his brother, the late John W. Rollins Sr.
The John Rollins side of the family is based mostly in Delaware and the Carolinas, and it includes Ted Rollins, who recently was removed as CEO of Campus Crest Communities. Ted Rollins has been the subject of numerous posts here at Legal Schnauzer, mainly because of his central role in a grossly unlawful divorce case in Shelby County, Alabama, from his second wife, Birmingham resident Sherry Carroll Rollins. Also, Ted Rollins has student-housing developments at four Alabama campuses (South Alabama, Troy, Jacksonville State, and Auburn), even though he has a criminal conviction for assault from the brutal beating of his stepson.
The Georgia court case does not involve Ted Rollins, but the controversy involves millions of dollars and recently attracted the attention of Forbes magazine, with reporter Clare O'Connor producing a major investigative report.
At the heart of the case are trust funds that O. Wayne Rollins established for his grandchildren, with the recipients having limited access to them. That strategy seems to run in the Rollins family. As we reported in a previous post, Sarah Rollins of Birmingham (the daughter of Ted and Sherry Rollins) has a trust fund established by John W. Rollins, and she has reached the age where, by law, she is entitled to information about the fund. Sherry Rollins states that nothing about the fund has been disclosed to her daughter, while Sherry, Sarah, and her sister Emma have relied on food stamps off and on for several years.
What's the gist of the ongoing court case in Georgia? Here is how Alyson Palmer explains it:
The siblings complain that their father and uncle have established unfair distribution systems at odds with the terms of the trusts created for their benefit by their grandfather. . .
In their lawsuit, filed in 2010, the plaintiffs contend that, after their grandfather died in 1991, their father and uncle breached their duties when they made various changes to the structure, leadership, holdings and distribution methods used within the various family entities held within the trusts. They point to a "conduct-based distribution system" imposed by their father and uncle after their grandfather's death that made distributions from entities held in the trusts based on factors such as the plaintiffs' attendance at entity shareholder meetings and engagement in "serious pursuits." They also complain that their father and uncle unilaterally amended the agreement for a family partnership held within the S-trusts, the Rollins Investment Fund (RIF), to concentrate power in themselves and permit non-pro-rata distributions to themselves at their own discretion. . . .
The plaintiffs claim the changes amounted to breaches of trust and breaches of fiduciary duty. They say their father threatened to cut off distributions to them entirely if they sued and that he and their uncle had Glen Rollins fired from his position at the family company, where he had worked for his entire career.
The establishment of trust funds comes with significant tax advantages and can involve huge sums of money. How much is at stake in the Rollins case. Alyson Palmer provides an idea:
Giving some hint as to how much money is at stake, Wednesday's decision said the plaintiffs, in support of their allegations of inequitable distributions, say that Gary and Randall received a total of $46.7 million from RIF between 1993 and 2011, while the four plaintiffs received a total of $53.5 million from RIF during the same time.