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No laughing matter

The company is known for the raucous comedy classic "Animal House" and its commercially successful (and critically panned) "Vacation" movie series starring Chevy Chase. Its list of slapstick, frat-house and family-friendly comedies is long, if not filled with high-brow entertainment.

But National Lampoon, the media company cranking out the laughter, also found itself recently agreeing to a humor-free settlement in an Ohio bankruptcy court. The company will pay $3 million to settle claims filed by Akron's Fair Finance Co., which had alleged that money was fraudulently transferred from Fair Finance to National Lampoon.

The transfers reportedly happened while Fair Finance CEO Timothy Durham was in control of National Lampoon. Durham, as some readers will recall, is in prison for securities fraud, among other charges. Federal prosecutors had argued that Durham financed a lavish lifestyle while defrauding investors in Fair Finance of more than $200 million.

The bankruptcy trustee has filed dozens of claims against companies --- including National Lampoon --- to recover funds for the 5,200 investors victimized in the scheme, a news report stated.

Helping trustees recover funds for those who sometimes lose everything in a fraud scheme is one of the things attorneys who represent creditors in bankruptcy can do to help tip the scales of justice in the proper direction. So often the media focuses on the plight of the person or company declaring bankruptcy, often ignoring the stories of the individuals and firms that lose their hard-earned money to those eager to dodge consequences for illegal or reckless behavior.

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