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Locke Lord Inherited Problem Case from Edwards Wildman
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Locke Lord

Summary: Two former Edwards Wildman Palmer lawyers mishandled a case that was supposed to be a class-action that Locke Lord has been left to deal with.

Locke Lord has been removed from a federal pyramid scheme case. The firm inherited the case after merging with Edwards Wildman Palmer in January. The firm is also being sued by the victims of the scheme for malpractice.


U.S. District Judge Dale Fischer of the Central District of California determined that Locke Lord is not prepared. They are being sued in the Los Angeles Superior Court by the victims that claim the lawyers at Edwards Wildman Palmer missed important dates to make their suit a class action. They want their $200,000 retainer returned and other damages.

Locke Lord argues that the lawyers, Ronie Schmelz and Edwin Larkin, on the original case left Edwards Wildman before they merged so they should not be penalized. The judge still saw the two lawsuits as divided loyalties.

The pyramid scheme was filed against EFT Holdings Inc., a nutritional product company. The victims claim they had to sell nutritional products but only made money by getting additional salespeople to sign on. They also claim that EFT Holdings was knowingly mislabeling some of their products, one of with was given a warning letter by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for products that contain lead.

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When Edwards Wildman first filed the suit as a class action, they never moved for class certification in the 90-day timeline. Now they have to move forward as an individual action. The victims asked for a second chance but the judge denied their request. Locke Lord lawyers also tried to file a new class action with the class certification.

The plaintiffs sued Locke Lord because they were left out of what should have been a class action. The nearly 7,300 EFT members had gathered their own money to use as the retainer fee for Edwards Wildman and the firm will not give that fee back.

Meanwhile, EFT lawyers directed by Neal Marder, partner at Winston & Strawn, are winning.




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