Akin Gump Wants to Quash Subpoenas

     DALLAS (CN) – The Akin Gump law firm seeks to quash a subpoena from the son of the late philanthropist Wendy Russell Reves, claiming the man is trying to relitigate a $2.5 million French judgment against him.
     In its federal motion to quash, Akin Grump Strauss Hauer & Feld claims that Arnold Leon Schroeder Jr., of California, initiated legal action in the United States and France after his mother’s death in March 2007, to get more than the $500,000 fixed-sum inheritance his mother left for him.
     “Schroeder attempted to claim rights as a ‘forced heir’ under French law to one-half of her estate, and further tried to make that estate as large as possible by claiming ownership of assets not belonging to Ms. Reves,” the motion states.
     “As part of that strategy, in 2008, Schroeder filed an adverse possession action in Nice, France, against [plaintiff] SCI La Pausa, claiming that Villa La Pausa should be part of the estate and thus part of his inheritance.”
     Dallas-based Akin Gump claims that lawsuit backfired, as a French court rejected Schroeder’s claim to the property and granted SCI’s counterclaim, awarding 523,000 euros in compensatory damages.
     A French appeals court upheld the ruling in 2011 and added 1.22 million euros in compensatory damages and interest, the law office says.
     Schroeder then sued the Dallas Museum of Art, several of its trustees and Akin Gump attorney Edward A. Copley in Dallas Federal Court 2011, accusing them of conspiring to defraud him, as sole heir, of a $400 million art collection that Reves had donated to the museum, including paintings by Van Gogh, Manet, Cezanne and Renoir.
     That lawsuit was dismissed with prejudice in November 2011, Akin Gump says. Meanwhile, SCI filed a collection action in Los Angeles Federal Court to collect on the French judgment. Akin Gump says that in spite of that court’s ban on relitigating the merits of the French action, Schroeder served Akin Gump and Copley with subpoenas on Aug. 1.
     “This discovery seeks information relevant only to the merits of the underlying French action and the dismissed Texas action,” the motion to quash states.
     “The deposition topics to Akin Gump and the document requests to both the firm and Mr. Copley reveal Schroeder’s true intentions.”
     Akin Gump asks the court to quash the subpoenas because they subject it and Copley, as nonparties in the California federal action, to an undue burden. It claims the information sought is unnecessary and protected by attorney-client privilege.
     Wendy Russell Reves aka Wyn-Nelle Russell Reves had been a fashion model, socialite and philanthropist; her death at 91 was covered by newspapers on both sides of the Atlantic.
     Her charitable donations include a $2 million endowment to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation and UT Southwestern Medical Center, $3 million for the establishment of the Wendy and Emery Reves Center for International Studies at the College of William & Mary and $2 million to the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas.
     Copley and Akin Gump are represented by Thomas Melsheimer, with Fish Richardson.

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