Saturday, August 11, 2001

Law firm told to return
$1 million from Hillblom case

By Russ Lynch

A judge in Saipan has ordered a prominent Hawaii-based law firm, Carlsmith Ball LLC, to hand over more than $1 million it received for representing the estate of Larry Hillblom, who grew rich after founding international parcel delivery company DHL Worldwide Express.

Hillblom, a Saipan resident, was presumed dead after his light plane crashed into the sea in May 1995.

A battle for his $1 billion-plus estate began with allegations that he fathered many Pacific Island children.

A partner in the Carlsmith office in Saipan, Marcia Shultz, said the company believes the order is wrong, and has already filed an appeal.

The Pacific Daily News in Guam said the firm would not comment further because the matter is in litigation.

Guam attorney David J. Lujan announced the probate court ruling in a news release yesterday, saying the Carlsmith firm was ordered to repay $1.06 million in fees it collected in 1995 and 1996 while serving as counsel to the Bank of Saipan, executor of the Hillblom estate.

Lujan said lawyers from around the Pacific "popped up representing children alleged to have been fathered by Hillblom."

Judge Alexandro C. Castro ruled the Carlsmith firm had improperly influenced court decisions, including hiding DNA evidence that would have helped to identify Hillblom heirs.

Four children, including a Palau boy represented by Lujan, were awarded about $90 million each because of the genetic likelihood that they were Hillblom heirs.

The University of California, which Hillblom had intended to get his entire estate, received $240 million.

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