Nashville judge rules lawyers must return money

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- A judge in Nashville has found three Memphis attorneys in contempt of court and ordered them to repay nearly $670,000 to people who thought they were buying insurance.

The Tennessean reported Davidson County Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle ruled attorneys William L. Hendricks, Russell T. "Rusty" Hensley and Theodore T. Kitai -- all of the Memphis firm Evans Petree PC -- set up new businesses with themselves as principals. The court ruled Hendricks, Hensley and Kitai continued to sell insurance and collect premiums after the state shut down their client, who left customers with unpaid claims.

The attorneys represented former Springfield businesses American Trade Association and Smart Data Solutions LLC, which closed in March 2010.

The president of Evans Petree declined comment. The attorneys did not return calls to the newspaper.

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