Saturday, September 15, 2012
The widow of Oleg Cassini, Marianne Nestor Cassini, has brought suit against the attorneys that litigated a dispute over the her late husband's will. The story here begins with Cassini's first marriage. In his first marriage, he had two daughters, Antoinette Daria and Christina to his first wife Gene Tierney. When the first marriage ended, Cassini agreed in his divorce decree to divide his estate between his two daughters equally. When he died in 2006, his daughter "Christina filed a claim in Nassau County Surrogate's Court arguing tht she was entitled to 25[%] of her father's estate under the divorce agreement." However, this conflicted with Cassini's will, which breached the terms of the original divorce agreement. Ms. Cassini argued that the will superseded the divorce agreement and so it should control. In this case, the court agreed with Christina, and she was able to obtain $13 million from her father's estate.
Marianne Nestor Cassini appealed and filed a lawsuit against several parties including her attorneys from Putney Twombly Hall & Hirson and the firm itself. She also included Nachsin & Weston, which were the original attorneys to look at the case. Ms. Cassini sought $13 million in damages or what she would have received had her attorneys not committed malpractice. The basis of her claim resided on the fact that her attorneys did not seek to challenge Christina's claim on the fact that she filed after the statute of limitation had run. Some doubt that Ms. Cassini will win this dispute. Christina filed her claim about one year after the death of her father, which means that it was timely filed. Ms. Cassini is probably wrong about when the statute begins to run. The statute of limitations would not begin to run until Cassini had died. Even though his will was written to breach the divorce decree he could have changed it before he died.
See Abby Ellin, Fashion Designer's Widow Sues Lawyers Over Inheritance Dispute, ABC, Sept. 7, 2012.
Special thanks to Brian Cohan (Attorney at Law, Law Offices of Brian J. Cohan, P.C.) for bringing this article to my attention.