Brian Stearns investors must return claim form to receiver

Former Bradyite Jim George, an Austin attorney with George & Donaldson, is pleading with local investors of Brian Russell Stearns to fill out their claim forms that were recently sent out by the “receiver” in the case. “If you do not return the claim form by Jan. 15, you will not receive any money in the settlement,” he told the Standard-Herald last Friday. George’s firm has had numerous phone calls from investors questioning the claim forms. “I have heard that some people in Brady and elsewhere are not filling out the claim forms because they are not sure that Janet Mortenson is connected with the lawsuit,” George said. “She is. She is in charge of deciding who invested with Stearns and how much each investor gets from the settlement that we reached last summer,” he said. George met with a group of Brady people in October 1999, shortly after Stearns was arrested by federal officers in Austin. Fearing that they had been defrauded by Stearns, some 100 people signed contracts with George’s firm and paid George to help finance the investigation of Stearns. “Those people became clients of George & Donaldson,” George said last Friday. After the investigation, George filed two lawsuits’one against Stearns and a California lawyer and another against a Dallas law firm. George learned that Stearns had received money from over 400 people all over the United States and several other countries. “Because the class of persons who had invested with Stearns was so large and so spread out, and because so much money had been lost, the court appointed a “receiver” to gather whatever goods and money she could get from Stearns himself and to handle any funds that resulted from the two lawsuits. That “receiver” was Janet Mortenson, a Houston attorney,” George said. Ms. Mortenson was chosen by the court because she had much experience in handling such cases. She has worked with George on other similar cases and has successfully handled large class actions and settlements. She hired Michael Shaunessy of Bickerstaff Heath, another Austin law firm, to represent the “receivership” in the two lawsuits. George and Shaunessy worked together to recover money for the defrauded investors. After almost two years of hearings, motions, pleadings and investigation, the Dallas law firm settled and agreed to pay $8.5 million to the investors. That money went to the “receiver” and is in an interest-bearing account. The court approved a claim form and instructed the “receiver” to have people who had been defrauded to send her proof of their loss. The court gave the “receiver” the duty of calculating how much each individual investor should receive from the settlement, a complicated task because different groups of investors received different calculations. The “receiver” hired a Dallas accountant, Garrett Vogel, to assist her in making these calculations. The Dallas accountant sent out claim forms to everyone known to have invested with Stearns. George said that all who invested with Stearns should have received a claim form by now. George is filling out the forms for his clients, who signed a contract with his law firm. “Anyone who did not sign a contract with George & Donaldson has to fill out his/her own claim form and return it to the “receiver” by Jan. 15 if you are to get any money from the settlement,” he said last Friday. Stearns investors may get a claim form at Also relating to this article is a letter to the editor in this issue from George.

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