Family Law

Tenn. High Court’s Divorce Ruling Costs Class Action Lawyer $6.8M

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Tennessee class action lawyer Gordon Ball will have to give his former spouse an extra $6.8 million because of a ruling by the Tennessee Supreme Court on the division of property acquired after a divorce filing.

Ball was awarded a $17 million fee after his wife, Marn Suzanne Larsen-Ball, filed for divorce in January 2006, the Knoxville News Sentinel reports. He had claimed the fee wasn’t marital property, but the Tennessee Supreme Court didn’t agree, affirming a split that gave 60 percent to Gordon and 40 percent to his former wife.

The opinion (PDF posted by the Knoxville News Sentinel) said the split was fair because Larsen-Ball’s role as a homemaker gave her husband the opportunity to pursue and acquire a “substantial estate” totaling $30 million in assets.

Larsen-Ball didn’t achieve a total victory, however. The state supreme court ruled against her claim that she was entitled to additional assets because of her husband’s lavish spending, the story reports. Payments targeted included a $1 million bonus to an employee, $55,000 spent on mistresses, more than $2 million paid for condos in Florida and Tennessee, and hundreds of thousands spent on cars and a plane.

The supreme court said both parties had a record of big spending, and there is no evidence that Gordon Ball was trying to deplete marital property.

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