Bill Rivard Wins No Cause Verdict In Accounting Malpractice Suit
Bill Rivard recently received a defense verdict for our client in an accounting malpractice suit following a jury trial in Oakland County Circuit Court. Plaintiffs, husband and wife, for whom defendant had prepared tax returns for more than 20 years, claimed that in February of March, 2004, one or the other of them brought defendant $499,000 in W2Gs for slot machine winnings for the year 2003. The parties disagreed on the date the documentation was brought to defendant, and whether plaintiffs brought any documentation of losses. Defendant testified he advised plaintiffs he needed documentation of losses to complete the return and waited. About one year after leaving their documents with defendant, plaintiffs demanded return of the documentation they provided him, and there was a dispute regarding whether defendant complied with their request by making their documentation available to them. Plaintiffs claimed damages for late filing fees and interest allegedly payable to the state and federal governments, and accounting fees for having to have an accountant reconstruct their documentation from IRS “transcripts.” Defendant argued that even the documentation of losses plaintiffs presented at trial, which was the documentation they allegedly provided in 2004, was insufficient to prepare an accurate return, since records of losses were only for partial casino play while using a so-called “players club” card. Bill had plaintiff’s expert accountant barred from testifying to state penalty and interest when he established by voir dire of the expert that no assessment had issued, the first of several steps required for the state treasurer to establish liability under by Michigan statutes, and because the accountant had never represented a client through the administrative steps for assessment, appeal, etc., provided by Michigan statutes. Plaintiffs’ claim for accounting malpractice was dismissed by the court because defendant was not a certified public accountant. The jury returned verdicts for defendant on plaintiffs’ claims for breach of contract, fraud, and claim and delivery. An appeal was not filed.