New Shot in Oleg Cassini Estate War
(CN) - In a malpractice complaint, the widow of fashion designer Oleg Cassini claims her attorneys mishandled an inheritance dispute with the daughter Cassini had with actress Gene Tierney.
Click here to check out Courthouse News' Entertainment Law Digest.
Marianne Nestor Cassini, on her own behalf and as executor of Oleg Cassini's estate, sued New York City-based Putney Twombly Hall & Hirson and two of its attorneys, William Pollak and Philip Kalban, in Nassau County Court, in Mineola, N.Y.
She also sued Los Angeles-based Nachsin & Weston and its attorney Richard Nachsin; and attorney Goldie Schon, of Encino.
Among his other creations, Oleg Cassini created the pillbox hats worn by Jackie Kennedy.
Marianne Cassino claims that her husband left $1 million to his estranged daughter, Christina Tierney, who sued, and won, 25 percent of her father's estate, or about $13 million.
Marianne Cassini claims that her attorneys at Putney Twombly Hall & Hirson did not challenge the delayed claims of Christina Tierney, who sued for 25 percent of her father's estate based on 1952 and 1953 property and divorce judgments between Oleg Cassini and her mother, actress Gene Tierney.
Christina Tierney persuaded a judge that those decades-old agreements should trump the $1 million Oleg bequeathed her in his will, according to Marianne Cassini's complaint.
"Defendants failed to raise the affirmative defenses of statute of limitations and payment and further failed to file timely opposition to Christina's cross-motion for summary judgment on that claim, which ultimately led to the Surrogate's Court granting Christina's cross-motion," the complaint states.
"These failures by defendants resulted in a loss to the estate of Oleg Cassini (the 'estate') of at least $13 million (representing the share of the estate granted to Christina upon her successful cross-motion for summary judgment) as well as causing plaintiff to incur significant attorneys' fees, costs, and disbursements, and court costs and fees to move to reargue and for leave to renew and to appeal the improper granting of Christina's cross-motion."
Oleg Cassini was costume designer on numerous movies during Hollywood's Golden Age, and was known as Jacqueline Kennedy's "Secretary of Style" in the 1960s.
Gene Tierney starred in the 1944 film noir classic, "Laura" and was nominated for an Academy award for her role in 1945's "Leave Her to Heaven."
Oleg Cassini and Gene Tierney had two children together, according to the complaint. Their first, Antoinette Daria was "born severely handicapped and incapacitated and was institutionalized for her entire life," the widow says in the complaint.
Gene Tierney filed for divorce from Oleg Cassini in 1947. The couple reconciled but then divorced in Los Angeles in 1952. Christina Tierney was born in 1948, according to the lawsuit.
The plaintiff claims that Cassini financially supported both his daughters, paying for around-the-clock medical care for Daria until she died.
Oleg Cassini's allocated $1 million to Christina, and placed $500,000 in a trust for Daria, according to the complaint.
Marianne Cassini claims that her lawyers' failure to challenge Christina's 2007 claim under the statute of limitations was an act "negligence and malpractice."
Marianne Cassini suedboth daughters in 2010, in a dispute over her late husband's estate.
She also filed a $10 million defamation lawsuit against Vanity Fair after it published a story involving the legal wrangle, according to Women's Wear Daily.
In her lawsuit in Nassau County Court, Marianne Nestor Cassini is represented by Douglas Eisenstein, with Carroll McNulty & Kull. She seeks $13 million.