Peterson v. McGladrey & Pullen, LLP

In 2002 Bell established mutual funds and raised about $2.5 billion for investment. Most of the firms to which the funds routed money were controlled by Petters. He was running a Ponzi scheme. There was no inventory. New investments paid older debts, with some money siphoned off for personal use. When Petters was caught in 2008, the funds collapsed; about 60% of the money was gone. The funds' bankruptcy trustee filed suit against the funds' auditor, alleging negligence. The district court dismissed without deciding whether the auditor had acted competently, invoking the doctrine of in pari delicto, based on Bell's knowledge of the scheme. The Seventh Circuit vacated, noting that Bell was not stealing funds and that the extent of his knowledge cannot be determined at this stage. An allegation that Bell was negligent but not criminally culpable in 2006 and 2007 makes the claim against the auditor sufficient.