Patricia Cornwell nets £33m from 'negligent' accountants

Best-selling crime writer Patricia Cornwell has won a $51m (£33m) legal battle with her accountants, whose poor professional service cost her millions in losses and unaccounted revenue.

The US crime writer, made famous by her thrillers about heroine medical examiner Kay Scarpetta, discovered in 2009 that her net-worth was $13m, despite having earned eight figure sums since 2005.

However, lawyers for her former accountants, New York firm Anchin, Block & Anchin LLP, argued in court in Boston that her accounts were all in order and correct, blaming any losses on the economic downturn and Cornwell's extravagant spending.

Anchin, Block & Anchin LLP is ranked 31 in the US with an annual fee income of $91.5m in 2012, according to the Accounting Today annual survey. The author claimed the firm's negligence cost her $15m when she missed a book deadline for the first time in her career.

The firm's defence told the court that Cornwell was an extremely demanding client who relied on them for everything from bringing her clothes to the tailor to arranging care for her mother and disputed assertions that they had stolen the money.

Federal district court judge George A O'Toole, Jr, awarded Cornwell $50.9m for breach of contract and negligence.

Cornwell said: 'God bless justice. It's a huge relief and it's been a huge ordeal.'

The firm is considering appealing the verdict.

The Case 1:09-cv-11708-GAO was heard at the John Joseph Moakley US Courthouse in Boston.

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