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Troutman claims vindication in suit by former client

Troutman Sanders has prevailed in a court battle where an investment firm charged that bad legal advice caused it to get in trouble with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The Supreme Court of Virginia last week refused to hear an appeal of the dismissal of the lawsuit by AIC Inc. against Troutman and firm partner Tom Grant of Richmond. The suit had been dismissed on demurrer by Richmond Circuit Judge Melvin Hughes.

“This result is complete vindication for the law firm and Mr. Grant,” said John West, managing partner of Troutman’s Richmond office.

The 2010 lawsuit by AIC and founder Nicholas Skaltsounis claimed that its lawyers at Troutman help steer the company into stormy seas, with the firm facing an SEC investigation. The SEC sued AIC in 2011, contending the firm had been running what amounted to a Ponzi scheme, paying earlier investors with deposits from later investors. Trial in the SEC action is set for February.

The suit against Troutman never got close to trial. Judge Hughes tossed the suit in 2011 with leave to file an amended complaint. One claim of the amended lawsuit initially survived demurrer, but Hughes dismissed that count on reconsideration.

“The earlier rulings by Judge Hughes and last week’s denial of a writ of error by the Virginia Supreme Court underscore the meritless nature of this lawsuit and bring this matter to an end,” West said.

AIC was represented by Steven Biss of Charlottesville. Troutman Sanders was represented by William Dolan of Vienna.

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