Indiana Attorney General recognizes Notre Dame Law Center for assisting homeowner in 'tax rescue' scheme litigation

Author: Notre Dame Law School

David Pruitt

Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita recently thanked the Notre Dame Clinical Law Center and David Pruitt, Program Director, Clinical Law Center, for their assistance representing Marlena Elias in litigation against Steven Kollar and other defendants alleging that her home was wrongfully taken from her in a "tax rescue" scheme.

In a March 13 press release, the Indiana Attorney General stated that the "Defendants conspired to defraud a Saint Joseph County woman by offering to save her home from a tax sale and then rehab it and split the proceeds of a sale with her. Kollar was to have paid to redeem the property from a tax sale, but he then converted the woman’s real property to his own use. Kollar then sold the property to another business in which he was also a part owner and obtained a loan to rehab the property, using it as collateral. He not only refused to unwind the transaction after the owner complained, but he ultimately paid the consumer nothing for the property."

The release also stated, "The suit resulted in a monetary judgment against Kollar in the amount of $252,837.50. The Court issued a permanent injunction prohibiting Kollar from further soliciting Hoosiers whose properties are subject to tax sale proceedings, engaging in further home solicitation sales, engaging in the unauthorized practice of law, and a ban on his serving as a trustee for any trust formed under the laws of the State of Indiana."

The case is currently on appeal.

Elias thanked the Indiana Attorney General and the Notre Dame Clinical Law Center. Elias said she saw an article in the South Bend Tribune discussing homeowners in the area who were in similar situations and needed help too.

“Notre Dame has a law clinic that provides that help. I contacted the clinic and I was finally able to take a deep breath. I had initially worked with Judy Fox who started my case and then asked David Pruitt to take over as she was retiring,” said Elias. “David Pruitt had an abundance of patience and thoroughness and kindness in handling my case. With his help, along with the Attorney General of Indiana, we worked for months negotiating a settlement because I was taken advantage of by predatory conduct. Without the help of David Pruitt, student intern Jeanna James (at the time a third-year law student), and legal assistant Jaimi Wood, I would not have a clear view of my future. I can't thank them enough for never giving up on my case.”

Pruitt said he was very happy to work with Elias after she had been taken advantage of. “We have been working with clients like Ms. Elias for decades and will continue to do so moving forward,” said Pruitt.

The Indiana Attorney General press release about the case can be found here.

The Notre Dame Law School Clinical Law Center, established in 1951 is dedicated to providing students with hands-on, practical lawyering skills while working directly with clients and in the courtroom. Simultaneously, it also serves unmet legal needs in underserved populations and furthers social justice in the greater South Bend community.

Additional information about the Eviction Clinic and other clinics and experiential learning programs at Notre Dame Law School is available here.