Firm Obtains Big Win for Client

From 1997 to 2009 Sujata Sachdeva embezzled over $36 million from her employer, Koss Corporation, in one of the Top 10 Largest Embezzlements in U.S. history. The embezzlement was reported all over the world, including on the cover of The National Enquirer.

Ms. Sachdeva was criminally convicted of embezzlement and is currently serving a prison term. In an attempt to recoup its loses, Koss sued its auditor, credit card company, and banks. Its auditor, Grant Thornton, settled the claim for $8.5 million, and its credit card company American Express, settled the claim for $3 million. Those lawsuits were filed in Illinois and Arizona, respectively. 

Koss also sued its local bank, Park Bank, in Milwaukee, arguing that Park Bank acted in bad faith under the Uniform Fiduciaries Act by failing to discover and report the embezzlement. In the lawsuit, Koss sought damages of $43,749,400 from Park Bank. After five years of litigation, on March 11, 2016, the trial court dismissed the case in a 24–page written decision, finding that “Park Bank did not act in bad faith.” The court held that, under the Uniform Fiduciaries Act, bad faith “requires a showing of some indicia of dishonest conduct or a showing of facts and circumstances so cogent and obvious that to remain passive would amount to a deliberate desire to evade knowledge because of a belief or fear that inquiry would disclose a defect in the transaction,” and “there must be some factual basis—whether an allegation of monetary self-interest or compelling evidence of wrongdoing—to suggest the bank acted intentionally to avoid knowledge of the fiduciary’s wrongdoing.” Here, the court held, “Koss has not provided any evidence that Park Bank intentionally ignored Sachdeva’s embezzlement,” and it “declines to require banks to act as detectives, whether they be Sherlock Holmes, Columbo, or Andy Sipowicz.”

Dean Laing of our firm was Park Bank’s lead attorney. Also working on the case were Greg Lyons and Joe Newbold.