US Coins

Dealers sue Collectors Universe, attorneys

Attorneys for coin dealers Silvano DiGenova, Greg Krill and Richard Wesselink have filed a complaint for malicious prosecution against Collectors Universe and several of its attorneys.

The suit was filed in California’s Orange County Superior Court on March 24. It alleges that Collectors Universe — the parent company of Professional Coin Grading Service — and others including attorneys Keith Attlesey, Suzanne Storm, Armen Vartian and Attlesey & Storm LLC, violated California law by initiating a malicious prosecution.

The suit also includes Defendants Does 1 through 50, which allows the complaint to be amended to include more defendants.

Collectors Universe sued DiGenova, Krill, Wesselink and several others in May 2010, alleging that the dealers worked together to violate state and federal law including the Lanham Act, by submitting for grading and subsequently trading “doctored” coins.

That lawsuit was dismissed on Dec. 13, 2010, and the complaint alleges that during that hearing, “the Court articulated its suspicion that the Lanham Act claim was simply a tool used by CU and the Attorney Defendants to allow them to file and pursue its claims in federal court.”

The suit alleges that CU never served the original complaint or the first amended complaint on any of the defendants, “Despite the fact that CU and the Attorney Defendants made public the CU Action through media outlets prominent in the Numismatic Community.” Because of this, the complaint alleges that when CU filed a motion for leave to file its second amended complaint, none of the defendants had been served and, therefore, they did not appear in court to oppose the action.

In the cause of action for malicious prosecution, the complaint alleges that CU’s action alleging violations of the Lanham Act against Wesselink in the original complaint and in the subsequent first and second amended complaints against Wesselink, Krill and DiGenova, was brought without probable cause.

The lawsuit states that CU and its attorneys “initiated the CU Action with malice, intending to disparage publicly Plaintiffs’ respective reputations and businesses and intended that the litigation have a chilling effect on others in the numismatic community who conducted business with CU.”

The suit alleges that the three coin dealers have suffered damages — including but not limited to — attorney’s fees, emotional distress and damage to reputation in an amount greater than $100,000. They seek a jury trial and damages, an award of punitive damages “in an amount sufficient to deter the wrongful conduct of CU and each of the attorney defendants,” and legal costs. ¦

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