US Fidelis has been sued for all sorts of alleged wrongdoing, such as cheating thousands of consumers and tarnishing the similar name of a Catholic health plan. Its founders — the brothers Darain and Cory Atkinson — have been indicted for fraud, stealing and illegally selling insurance.
Now, what's left of the bankrupt seller of extended auto service contracts faces an entirely new legal assault.
It focuses on a fountain, dining room furniture and some home appliances and electronics. Pro sports agent Harold Lewis says those items should have been included in his $4.75 million purchase of the Lake Saint Louis mansion that US Fidelis spent at least $27 million building for Darain Atkinson.
"I do not have any idea where any of the stuff is," said Brian McGovern, a lawyer for Lewis who filed the suit in US Fidelis' corporate bankruptcy proceedings. The suit demands unspecified damages plus attorneys' fees from the bankruptcy estate.
The Atkinsons now have no role in managing the company. It is winding down under court supervision for the benefit of creditors, including consumers.
The suit doesn't set a dollar value on the household items, and McGovern wouldn't speculate on how much they are worth.
Lawyer David Warfield represents a committee of US Fidelis creditors. Late last year, he negotiated the sale of the mansion to Lewis, whose Chesterfield company — National Sports Agency — represents more than 40 NFL players.
Lewis' suit "is completely without any merit whatsoever," Warfield said in an e-mail.
"If he does not withdraw it immediately, we plan to ask the court to sanction both the buyer and its law firm that filed the law suit," Warfield said.
The suit was filed on Aug. 4, but the dispute has been simmering for months. In April, McGovern asked the federal judge handling the company's bankruptcy case to demand that the estate turn over the missing household items, which also include at least 24 audio speakers and a machine that regulates salt water in the mansion's swimming pool.
McGovern withdrew that motion but not before it drew a harshly worded legal response from the creditors committee.
In that filing, Warfield said Lewis had agreed at closing to move forward on the purchase "without any of the personal property that they now complain about not receiving."
The response accuses Lewis of making "ludicrous demands," including that the bankruptcy estate should give him a Mercedes to make up for the missing household items.
Warfield said most of the items identified in the suit were taken from the house by Darain Atkinson's wife, Mia, who under the terms of legal settlement was allowed to keep household furnishings and clothing with a combined liquidation value of $75,000.