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Settlement Reached in Temple-Inland; Delaware Internally Reviewing Unclaimed Property Audit Practices

The court case challenging Delaware’s unclaimed property audit methodologies has settled following an opinion brutalizing Delaware’s position. This settlement leaves the US District Court for the District of Delaware (District Court) holding as precedent, but the issue of what methods Delaware must jettison remains open. Last Friday, Temple-Inland and Delaware filed a joint motion to dismiss with prejudice in the District Court after the parties agreed to settle the dispute. While the settlement agreement was not publicly disclosed, we understand that Delaware agreed to withdraw its entire assessment (totaling $2,128,834.13) and pay Temple-Inland’s attorneys’ fees and costs, including expert witness reports. The settlement avoids an affirmation by the US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit that Delaware’s audit practices and estimation techniques collectively “shock the conscience,” but remains a significant holder victory given that the Temple-Inland...

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Breaking News: Federal Court Finds Delaware’s Unclaimed Property Enforcement “Shocks the Conscience”

On June 28, 2016, the much-anticipated memorandum opinion of the US District Court for the District of Delaware in Temple-Inland, Inc. v. Cook et al., No. 14-654-GMS was released on the parties’ cross-motions for summary judgment, finding Delaware’s extrapolation methodology and audit techniques collectively violate substantive due process.  According to Judge Gregory M. Sleet, “[t]o put the matter gently, [Delaware has] engaged in a game of ‘gotcha’ that shocks the conscience.”  The opinion also specifically called third-party auditor Kelmar Associates LLC’s formula used for estimation into question, noting that the use of a holder’s calendar sales as the denominator in the ratio used to estimate liability raises questions given the lack of connection between abandoned property and the economy.  In sum, this opinion is a “must read” for any unclaimed property advisor or holder going through a Delaware audit and is likely to have a drastic impact on both...

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Delaware’s Unclaimed Property Audit Program Dealt Blow

The judge in a case challenging Delaware’s use of sampling and extrapolation to determine unclaimed property liability denied the state’s motion to dismiss and in doing so, seriously questioned the State’s approach.  Temple-Inland v. Cook, U.S. Dist. Ct. (DE), Civ. No. 14-654-SLR (3/11/2015).  Temple-Inland brought a suit against the State following an unclaimed property audit of its accounts payable balances and before the audit of other property types was completed.  Delaware found Temple-Inland liable for unclaimed property going back to 1986 based on the use of sampling and extrapolation.  On March 11, 2015, Judge Robinson ruled on the Temple-Inland’s summary judgment motion and the State’s motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim.  While the State won one issue, Temple-Inland certainly came out ahead overall. Let’s start with the bad news first: the one dark spot in the opinion for holders is that the judge decided that the U.S. Supreme Court’s...

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