The Georgia Appeals Court bounced a long-running legal dispute involving one of Atlanta’s richest families back to a trial court to determine whether the billionaire dynasty’s patriarchs abused their control over their children’s assets.
Since 2010, the Rollins family, which controls the Orkin pest control business and other assets reportedly worth almost $8 billion, has torn itself apart in multiple civil and divorce lawsuits.
The appeals court ruled on Wednesday that a lawsuit filed by Rollins CEO Gary Rollins’ four children should now go to trial before a Fulton Superior Court judge who initially dismissed the case, sending it on a circuitous migration through Georgia’s supreme and appeals courts.
“We’re very pleased with it. That’s exactly what we argued and wanted,” Lamar “Mickey” Mixson, attorney for the Rollins children, said of the ruling. He said he expects the upcoming trial — likely to be long, expensive and complex — to happen in 2015.
The core dispute has generated tens of thousands of pages of court filings since former Orkin President Glen Rollins and his three siblings sued their father and uncle, Rollins Chairman Randall Rollins.
They accused the two men of abusing their control over a complex array of family trusts and companies, pulling out $47 million and cutting off their nine children’s incomes if they didn’t meet a code of conduct.
A spokesman for the Rollins patriarchs declined to comment. In earlier interviews, representatives have said the Rollins brothers’ moves were legal, and that the four children were motivated by greed in their efforts to break up trusts with illiquid assets that were set up by the business dynasty’s deceased founder, O. Wayne Rollins.
Two days after the lawsuit was filed, Gary’s then-wife, Ruthie Rollins, sided with her children and filed for divorce. Shortly after, Glen Rollins was fired from his job as Orkin’s president, and the four children’s incomes from the trusts were cut off.
Randall’s five kids, who didn’t join the lawsuit, are still getting incomes from their trusts.
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