San Diego-based attorneys Tim Cohelan, Mike Aguirre and John Wertz initiated the flurry of Pioneer-related civil suits in early January when they filed suits that alleged fraud on the part of Pioneer owner Gary Naiman and Pioneer's banks and accounting firms. The three attorneys, who represent about 100 Pioneer investors, want Rhoades to certify the suit as a "class action," a designation that would turn the suit into one that represents all of Pioneer's 2,000 investors.
A few days later, nearly a dozen investors filed individual lawsuits in San Diego County Superior Court, alleging fraudulent actions that mirror those found in the U.S. District Court suit. On March 1, four law firms representing Pioneer investors filed 90 more suits against Naiman and several companies that did business with Pioneer.
Attorneys who filed in federal court are hoping that the bankruptcy and civil cases will eventually fall under the jurisdiction of a single district court judge.
Those who filed in superior court believe that the myriad interests of Pioneer investors would best be suited to rules of the state court system, in part because of a state law that generally provides earlier trial dates for plaintiffs who are over 70 years old and are in poor health.