Patricia Cornwell Reaches Deal With Ex-Accountants

BOSTON (CN) — Best-selling author Patricia Cornwell on Tuesday reached an undisclosed settlement nearly five years after accusing her former accounting company of financial mismanagement.

Cornwell is best known for her 23-volume Kay Scarpetta medical examiner series, which began in 1991 and continues. She has sold more than 100 million books around the world.

Cornwell sued Anchin, Block & Anchin LLP in 2012, claiming it mismanaged her investments, kept shoddy records and bungled real estate deals that resulted in her missing the deadline for her 2007 Scarpetta novel, “Book of the Dead.” Her original federal lawsuit alleged breach of contract, negligence and breach of fiduciary duty.

A jury ruled for Cornwell in 2013 and awarded her $51 million.

U.S. District Judge George O’Toole, however, overturned his own ruling a year later, after determining that he had erred in his jury instruction on the statute of limitations.

O’Toole had instructed the jury to consider only activity within three years of the lawsuit’s filing for contract and negligence charges, but erroneously instructed the jury to disregard the three-year statute of limitations for fiduciary duty, according to his corrective order.

The First Circuit agreed in July 2016 and ordered a new trial after affirming O’Toole’s reversal. New York has a three-year statute of limitations for fiduciary duty cases that seek monetary damages, but cases that seek equitable remedies have a six-year limit. Cornwell was seeking monetary damages.

Cornwell’s attorney Joan Lukey, with Choate Hall & Stewart, did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday. Anchin, Block & Anchin declined to comment.

The Jan. 17 settlement order and dismissal without prejudice gives either party 30 days to reopen with cause if the undisclosed settlement is not consummated.