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Disney In-Law Sues Lawyers for $100 Million

LOS ANGELES (CN) - A real estate developer sued a law firm for $100 million, claiming it defamed him on its website to justify "pillaging and plundering" millions of dollars in fees from trusts for his children, heirs to the Walt Disney fortune.

William S. Lund, of Arizona, sued the trust's attorney Peter Gelblum and the law firm Mitchell, Silberberg & Knupp in Superior Court.

A self-described "respected and successful entrepreneur," Lund says he has acted as an officer and trustee for 13 trusts, including the Walt Disney Foundation and trusts for his son and daughter, twins Bradford Disney Lund and Michelle Ann Lund.

Lund says he collaborated with Walt Disney in a feasibility study for a Disney World site. In 1968, he married Disney's youngest daughter, Sharon. The couple divorced in 1977 but Sharon named Lund as one of the trustees to manage their children's trust, which disburses roughly $20 million to each child every five years, according to the Arizona Republic.

The Republic reported in 2010 that Lund lived close to his son Brad, but his relationship with Michelle soured as the family feuded over management of the trust.

In that article, cited in Lund's lawsuit, Gelblum accused Lund of making money on trust business transactions involving secret land deals and forging Michelle and Brad's names to push through the transactions.

But in his 9-page lawsuit, Lund claims Gelblum "blatantly lied" to the Republic. He claims the law firm falsely accused him on its website of secretly profiting from the trust's business dealings at the expense of his children.

A statement at the firm's website, attached as an exhibit to the lawsuit, says Gelblum "Successfully represented trustees of trusts for heirs of Walt Disney, holding several hundred million dollars in litigation to remove a trustee who made a secret profit from trust transactions."

Lund claims that statement about the trustee refers to him, but he says he never did anything wrong and reached a settlement with the trust after stepping down in 2010.

Lund claims the law firm "viciously" defamed him "so as to justify payment to themselves of millions of dollars of attorneys fees ... pillaging and plundering the estate and legacy of Sharon Disney Lund and her progeny," according to the lawsuit.

Lund claims Gelblum filed unlawful pleadings after Michelle sought guardianship of Brad, representing that the firm was licensed to practice law in Arizona though it was not. He claims that a trial court judge threw out Gelblum's motion in the guardianship action in October 2011.

Peter Gelblum made "hundreds of malicious lies and false representations" during his three-hour interview with the Arizona Republic, Lund claims in the lawsuit.

He seeks $25 million each in general, special, exemplary and punitive damages.

He is represented by Joyce Vega.

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