U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman has dismissed Grant Thornton as a defendant in a class-action shareholder lawsuit against GT, Koss Corp. and CEO Michael J. Koss, filed in January 2010 on behalf of plaintiff David Puskala and other Koss shareholders.
In his ruling, Adelman stated that the plaintiffs failed to make a case for GT’s epic failure to detect former Koss executive Sue Sachdeva’s $34 million embezzlement/hoarding scheme. Reasonable, considering GT auditors scared the crap out of old Sue, even though they were sticking newbies on the gig. “Fear was one thing. I thought it was imminent,” she said in a court deposition last year. “Their auditors, every time they walked in, I’d say, ‘This is it. They’re going to catch me.’” Shareholders’ issue – we assume – is that they didn’t. Year after year after year after year until 2009 rolled around and the whole house of cards came tumbling down.
The judge also dismissed claims of willful or reckless behavior against Michael Koss, saying “I conclude that the innocent explanations are more compelling than the inference of recklessness.” Meaning Mike couldn’t possibly have known Sue had been siphoning off millions in company money over a six year period, absent hanging out at her house and noticing all the fancy new shit she had strewn everywhere. And stashed in closets. And bursting out of her garage.
As for Grant Thornton, the judge wrote that the occurrence of fraud and failure to detect it doesn’t imply recklessness on the part of the accounting firm, but rather that the firm was negligent. While it is clear that Sachdeva used her position with Koss to bypass the company’s not-rock-solid internal controls, it is also believed that the controls were sufficient so as not to be obviously unreliable to a reasonable person (or auditor fresh out of accounting school). We’re looking forward to hearing how audit professors use this decision to emphasize the cavernous depth between “negligence” and “recklessness” on the part of auditors.
Sachdeva is still a defendant in the Puskala lawsuit and is currently serving 11 years for the fraud.
Grant Thornton dismissed from Koss shareholder lawsuit [Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel]