|Sarah Rollins (right), with her sister,
Emma, and father, Ted
The Rollinses, the folks behind Orkin Pest Control and other highly profitable enterprises, are one of the nation's wealthiest families. But the clan's patriarchs apparently have a habit of keeping the next generation largely in the dark about trust funds. That sparked a lawsuit in 2010, with four of Gary Rollins' children alleging that their father and his brother, Randall Rollins, had breached their fiduciary duty as trustees. A recent Georgia appellate ruling found that the children's case presented issues that should be determined by a jury.
Randall and Gary Rollins are the heads of Atlanta-based Rollins Inc., the umbrella company for Orkin Pest Control, RPC Inc. (formerly Rollins Energy Services), and other entities. But they now stand accused of essentially raiding trust funds for their own benefit, and a Georgia court has found those claims should go to trial. (The full appellate ruling can be viewed at the end of this post.)
How might this shape the Rollins story in Alabama? The answer to that question remains unclear, but we do know this: Ted Rollins, Randall and Gary's cousin, is CEO of Charlotte-based Campus Crest Communities, a developer of student housing near public universities around the country. Campus Crest has four projects in Alabama, and Ted Rollins played a central role in a divorce case here that resulted in a monstrous cheat job against his ex wife, Birmingham resident Sherry Carroll Rollins, and their two daughters. One of those daughters, 19-year-old Sarah Rollins, apparently has a trust fund about which she knows almost nothing.
Many questions surround Sarah Rollins' trust fund. In what state was it established? What rules govern disbursements to her as beneficiary? Who are the trustees, and have they fulfilled their legal duties to her? But Sherry Rollins has provided information that indicates the trust fund exists--and under the law, Sarah Rollins almost certainly has a right to know about it.
A New York Times article in March 2013 states that in almost all states, an 18-year-old is considered an adult who is entitled to know about provisions of a trust fund. Sherry Rollins says her daughter is mostly in the dark about her trust fund--and Ms. Rollins says she has seen signs that Ted Rollins wants to keep it that way.
What is the genesis of the Rollins trust-fund feud in Atlanta? We wrote about it in an October 26, 2010, post titled "A Wealthy Republican Family Hangs Out Its Dirty Laundry Down South." Here's how Atlanta Business Chronicle reporter Jacques Couret outlined the current issues in a report dated April 1, 2013:
At the heart of the case is a feud over how Gary W. Rollins handles his children’s trusts. Glen Rollins, his brother O. Wayne Rollins II and sisters Ruth Ellen Rollins and Nancy Louise Rollins in August 2010 sued their father, Gary, and uncle, Randall, for their handling of several family trusts. Two days after the children filed their lawsuit, Gary Rollins’ wife of nearly 45 years, Ruth, filed for divorce.
How nasty can these sorts of issues get in a wealthy family? Jacques Couret's report provides a clue:
The siblings filed suit over the trust that had been established for them, and how they stood to be paid under the plan known as the Rollins Perpetual Management Trust.
That lawsuit led to Glen Rollins being fired from his executive positions with Rollins on Sept. 7, 2010. He left Rollins Inc. in April 2011.
Ouch! A son gets booted out of the family firm because he asks questions about funds to which it appears he is legally entitled?
Randall and Gary Rollins have shown signs that they can get vicious when confronted about their actions as trustees. Ted Rollins also has shown signs that he is willing to threaten alarming actions when confronted about Sarah Rollins' trust fund.
How exactly has Ted Rollins behaved under such circumstances? We will answer that question in upcoming posts.
(To be continued)