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EquiAlt Investors Seek Class Status in Suit Against Two Law Firms

July 26, 2021, 9:07 PM

Investors who say DLA Piper LLP and Fox Rothschild LLP knowingly aided and abetted a $170 million Ponzi scheme asked a federal judge in Florida for permission to move forward with their suit as a class.

The EquiAlt LLC investors accuse the firms of knowingly assisting the alleged scheme. Their claims “present the quintessential case for class certification,” according to documents filed as part of the investors’ certification motion in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida.

Paul Wassgren, a former Fox Rothschild partner who moved to DLA Piper, represented EquiAlt before the public learned of the alleged scheme. He’s also named as a defendant in the suit.

The “central issue” in the case is “whether Wassgren, and thereby Fox and DLA, in fact knew of and assisted in the unlawful and fraudulent public securities offerings,” the investors said. “The answers to those questions are plainly common to every purchaser of the EquiAlt Securities who suffered a net loss of investment.”

Wassgren and the firms moved to dismiss the suit in November 2020. The court hasn’t yet ruled on their dismissal motions.

Bonnett, Fairbourn, Friedman & Balint PC, Moskowitz Law Firm PLLC, Sonn Law Group PA, San Diego, Calif.-based Leonard B. Simon, Casey Gerry Schenk Francavilla Blatt & Penfield LLP, and Russomanno & Borrello PA represent the investors. Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP and Williams & Connolly LLP represent DLA Piper. Gunster represents Fox Rothschild. Carlton Fields PA represents Wassgren.

The case is Gleinn v. Wassgren, M.D. Fla., No. 8:20-cv-01677, motion for class certification filed 7/23/21.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jennifer Bennett in Washington at jbennett@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Rob Tricchinelli at rtricchinelli@bloomberglaw.com