Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Hulk Hogan Helps Prove Corruption in Alabama Divorce Courts

Hulk Hogan and Linda Bollea

Pro wrestling icon Hulk Hogan probably did not intend to do this, but he has helped us prove the monstrous corruption that exists in Alabama domestic-relations court.

How did "The Hulkster" do it? By coming to a recent settlement agreement in his divorce from Linda Bollea. The ex took a significant hunk out of Hulk's financial hide, which often happens in a divorce case where the lawyers and the judge are making some effort to follow the law.

Under the law, a marriage is a partnership--and each spouse has a stake in property that is acquired during the marriage, regardless of ownership or who holds the title to it. Such property comes under the banner of "marital assets" and is to be distributed in an equitable fashion in the event of a divorce. Reasonable people can disagree on the definition of "equitable," but the law is clear: Marriage affords you the right to share in each other's gains and losses.

In the Hogan divorce case, Linda Bollea clearly wound up sharing in Hulk's gains--as she was entitled to do under the law. But her positive outcome reminds us of just how badly some individuals, both women and men, can be cheated in divorce cases. Sherry Carroll Rollins, and her daughters Sarah and Emma, are classic examples of people who have been wronged by an Alabama court system that is hideously corrupt, especially in the domestic-relations arena.

We have written extensively about the Rollins v. Rollins divorce case. Sherry Rollins was married for 14 years to Ted Rollins, who belongs to one of the nation's wealthiest families, the people behind Orkin Pest Control and other enterprises. Ted Rollins flies around in multiple private air craft and has substantial business interests of his own; he has been president of St. James Capital and now is CEO of Campus Crest Communities, which completed a $380 million IPO on Wall Street last year.

How much did Sherry Rollins get of the couple's marital assets? Pretty much nothing. Under the law, she had a stake in any investments, properties, businesses, pensions, insurance, and more. What did she get? Thanks to Alabama District Judge D. Al Crowson, who did not even have jurisdiction to hear a case that started when Sherry Rollins filed for divorce in South Carolina, she got $815 a month in child support, $500 in alimony . . . and that's about it.

Now, let's compare that to the outcome in the Hulk Hogan divorce. Headline writers have been having a field day with the Hogan story, as you can tell from this tampabay.com article titled "Ex wife put Hulk Hogan against the ropes in divorce settlement." From reporter Rita Farlow:

Some might call it a financial smackdown.

Linda Bollea, 52, who divorced Hulk Hogan in 2009, received a little more than 70 percent of the couple's liquid assets in their divorce settlement, a recent court filing shows.

In addition, Hogan, 58, the semiretired professional wrestler whose real name is Terry Bollea, agreed to give his ex-wife 40 percent ownership in his various companies and pay her an additional $3 million "property settlement," according to the filing.

The confidential financial settlement came to light this week after it was attached to a new motion filed by Terry Bollea's attorneys.

So Linda Bollea got 40 percent ownership in Hulk's companies and a $3 million property settlement. And that's not all:

Details from the settlement show Linda Bollea received $7.44 million of the couple's $10.41 million that was held in bank and investment accounts. Terry Bollea got the remaining $2.97 million. . . .

Linda Bollea got to keep a Mercedes-Benz, a Cadillac Escalade, a Corvette, a Rolls-Royce and various off-road vehicles. Terry Bollea, who had an extensive collection of vehicles, got the rest, though they were not detailed in the agreement.

Sherry Rollins does not even have her own vehicle. She drives an elderly Subaru that is registered to Holly Rollins (Ted's current wife) or Bradley Arant (Ted's Birmingham-based law firm). For each of the past two years, neither Holly Rollins nor Bradley Arant has renewed the car tags in a timely fashion. Dawn Helms Sharff, who acts as Ted Rollins' primary corporate attorney, appears to be the responsible party, but she has mostly ignored repeated requests from Sherry Rollins to update the car tag.

Here is what Dawn Sharff's bio says about her duties:

Dawn serves as lead counsel on commercial real estate and commercial financing matters, often coordinating a legal team involving other Bradley Arant Boult Cummings attorneys, as well as local counsel in other states.

Sharff can handle all of that, but she can't handle a car tag on a vehicle that appears to be her responsibility? That's the kind of stuff Sherry Rollins deals with. Sounds like Linda Bollea won't be having such worries.

Some reporters have portrayed the Hogan story as one where Linda Bollea took Hulk to "the legal cleaners." But I doubt that's the case. I'm sure Hulk Hogan could afford adequate legal representation. His wife also must have had adequate counsel--and she apparently lucked into an honest Florida judge--and she got her equitable share of the marital assets.

The public record indicates that Ted Rollins, or someone working on his behalf, pulled strings to administer a monstrous cheat job on Sherry Rollins and the couple's daughters. I've written many times that it's the worst case of judicial corruption I've encountered in the civil arena.

And here is the stunning part: Hulk Hogan is a wealthy dude, but I'm betting that Ted Rollins leaves him in the financial dust. Hulk apparently made his money the old-fashioned way--he earned it by becoming a star on the burgeoning pro wrestling circuit. Ted Rollins was born with wealth and financial clout, thanks to his status as the son of the late entrepreneur John W. Rollins Sr.

Ted Rollins is CEO of a company that went public about a year ago to the tune of $380 million. His stepmother, Michele Rollins, is worth between $90 and $350 million. Perhaps more importantly, Ted Rollins has been involved in business pursuits with his cousin, R. Randall Rollins, the CEO of Rollins Inc. in Atlanta. At last check, Randall Rollins had stock worth of $763.8 million--and that was in 2005. Our guess is that his total worth easily tops $1 billion by now.

Hulk Hogan has done well for himself, but I doubt that he's in the Rollinses' financial league. And yet, Sherry Rollins and her daughters qualify for food stamp in Alabama.

Doesn't look like Linda Bollea will have to worry about being on food stamps any time soon.


David said...

Who are Sherry Rollind lawyers and where were they when the judge made the judgement in her case? Were they in a back room with the woman from Bradely Arant?

legalschnauzer said...

She had about a half dozen different lawyers. Several of them filed the correct basic documents, showing that Shelby County had no jurisdiction to hear the case. The judge, however, ignored the clear law and went ahead with it anyway.

At that point, a lawyer only has a few choices--he can file a motion for the judge to recuse, which the judge can deny; he can file a writ of mandamus to a higher court, asking them to force the judge to act according to the law; or he can file a complaint against the judge with the Judicial Inquiry Committee.

A lawyer taking any of these steps is likely to piss off the trial judge and could put his career at risk. That's why most lawyers will push only so far against a corrupt judge. Ms. Rollins' lawyers ultimately decided it was better to placate a corrupt judge than to serve their own client.

I've had that very same experience, as have many other Americans.

jeffrey spruill said...

Corrupt/criminal attorneys owe their allegiance to other corrupt/criminal judges--in my particular case was Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III.

editor for Norfolk's The Virginian-Pilot.


jeffrey spruill said...

Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson's wikipedia page says:

Wilkinson talked about his July interview with Bush in the New York Times, undermining his candidacy amongst the Bush inner circle.[1]

It needs editing to say:

Wilkinson talked about his Thursday July14,2005 interview with Bush in the New York Times on Wednesday July20,2005 which could not have undermined his candidacy amongst the Bush inner circle because Bush made up his mind only hours before he called Judge Roberts on Tuesday July19,2005 at 12:35 p.m...

Cowards & criminals ALWAYS play with the truth.

Anonymous said...

alabama is currupt all the way around especially in bibb county.i have a story about alabama but no one will listen be careful if u move to alabama know how they work .