|Dover Downs Hotel and Casino|
Why did members of a mega-wealthy American family resort to criminal tactics in an effort to gain the upper hand in an Alabama divorce case? The answer appears to be simple: Birmingham resident Sherry Carroll Rollins dared marry into the family behind Orkin Pest Control, Dover Downs Gaming and Entertainment--and numerous other highly profitable enterprises--without signing a prenuptial agreement.
That meant the inheritance and various business interests of her husband, Ted Rollins, were vulnerable in the event of a divorce. That, Ms. Rollins said, made her the subject of intense scrutiny and suspicion during the roughly 10 years she was a Rollins spouse. And when she finally decided to seek a divorce, after her husband allegedly had engaged in multiple extramarital affairs, the power of a "1 Percent" family came down upon her.
The result was Rollins v. Rollins, a divorce case that spread over two states and has come to be known here at Legal Schnauzer as the worst courtroom cheat job I've encountered in the civil arena.
Was Sherry Carroll adamantly opposed, in general, to the idea of a prenuptial agreement? It does not appear that she was. But the Rollins family presented her with a proposed agreement under such bizarre circumstances, with such one-sided conditions, that she threw it in Ted Rollins' face and said the wedding was off.
How did Ted Rollins react? He tore up the agreement and said he wanted to get married anyway. Sherry Rollins later would say that, to her knowledge, she was the only woman to marry into Rollins wealth without a prenup.
What kind of money did that leave potentially exposed in the event of a divorce? How did that cause Sherry Rollins to be treated during the course of her marriage? She provides insight by pointing to Dover Downs, the Delaware-based hotel, casino, and racing complex that is one of the Rollins family's prime properties. From an e-mail that Sherry Rollins sent to Legal Schnauzer:
I remember when [Dover Downs] went public in 1993 or so. Ted's brother, Jeff, who was 24 years old, made $68 million on the IPO. Ted made somewhere near that, but Mr. Rollins (John Rollins Sr., Ted's father) held onto Ted's money as they did not trust his marriage with me, with no prenup in place. I was the only Rollins woman without a prenup. That made them all very nervous from the beginning and influenced how I was treated.
They kept private detectives on our house, and especially me. In these families where money is the only respected thing, the new person walking in without their approval, and without the prenup, is a huge threat to their income flow.
How did the Rollins family present a prenup to the interloper, Sherry Carroll? What were some of its provisions? We will examine those issues in an upcoming post.
(To be continued)