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State Supreme Court To Hear Former Football Player’s Fraud Claims

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File photo of a gavel (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

File photo of a gavel (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) _ The Connecticut Supreme Court will take
up a fraud lawsuit by ex-NFL player and investment firm founder Bob
Simms against his ex-wife’s lawyers, brushing aside a lower court
decision barring the claim.

Simms, a linebacker who played for the New York Giants and
Pittsburgh Steelers in the 1960s, accuses his former wife, Donna
Simms, and her lawyers of failing to disclose a nearly $360,000
inheritance during a legal fight over alimony he pays. Her lawyers
deny the allegations.

Simms, of Greenwich, said Monday that lawyers must not be
allowed immunity from lawsuits.

“The world should know these six lawyers committed fraud
against the applicant,” Simms said, referring to himself. “The
question is can they be held liable for fraud?”

A Supreme Court spokeswoman said the court will take up the
case. A date for the hearing has not yet been set.

Lawyers for Simms’ ex-wife did not immediately return a call
seeking comment.

One of the lawyers, Susan Moch, said in June when the state
Appellate Court ruled against Simms that the allegation that she
concealed something from the court is ridiculous.

“Unfortunately, this was an extraordinarily bitter case that’s
been going on since 1979,” she said.

The Appellate Court, Connecticut’s second-highest court, ruled
2-1 in June that Simms could not sue the lawyers because of
absolute immunity that shields judges and lawyers from civil
lawsuits in connection with their actions in court. Its intent is
to promote people speaking freely at judicial proceedings without
fear of being sued and avoid hindering a lawyer’s advocacy for his
or her client.

Judge Thomas Bishop wrote in his dissent that lawyers need to be
held accountable for fraudulent acts.

Bob and Donna Simms married in 1961 and divorced in 1979. As
part of the divorce settlement, Bob Simms was ordered to pay Donna
Simms alimony. The legal wrangling resumed in 1989, when she filed
motions to increase the alimony while he sought to decrease or
eliminate it.

Simms has been trying to sue his ex-wife’s lawyers since 2009
for fraud and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The
attorneys named in the complaint are Moch, Penny Seaman, Kenneth
Bartschi, Brendon Levesque and Karen Dowd, all of whom represented
Donna Simms in state Superior Court and appeals court proceedings
from 2005 to 2008.

     (Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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