BEAUFORT, S.C. (CN) – Actor Tom Berenger claims in court that an attorney told him to sign an amendment to his prenuptial agreement without even reading the document, which cost him more than $100,000 when he divorced his third wife.
Berenger sued Dean Bell and The Dean B. Bell Law Firm in the Beaufort County Court of Common Pleas.
Berenger married his third wife, Patricia Alvaran, in 1998, in Beaufort.
In a prenuptial agreement, Alvaran agreed to waive claims to Berenger’s past or future income and to his premarital property. In case of divorce, Alvaran’s alimony was capped at $50,000, according to the complaint.
In 2005, Berenger says, he hired Bell to review an amendment to the prenuptial agreement, which had been suggested by Alvaran and her attorney.
Berenger claims Bell advised him to sign the amendment without discussing the changes it made, and without assessing his marriage or financial situation.
“Bell came to Mr. Berenger’s home one evening shortly after accepting the representation with the post-marital amendment in hand, while Mr. Berenger and other friends were socializing,” the complaint states. “During that one and only meeting, he advised Mr. Berenger to sign the proposed amendment – without making or suggesting any changes – representing that it was in Mr. Berenger’s best interests to sign the amendment. The post-marital amendment required Mr. Berenger, among other things, to begin making immediate payments to his then-spouse, immediately amend his estate plan to provide the wife a 50 percent interest, and immediately amend his retirement plans to provide her with a 50 percent interest, all of which were contrary to the protections Mr. Berenger had under the pre-marital agreement.”
Berenger claims Bell never reviewed the prenuptial agreement, and discussed the changes with only Alvaran and her attorney – not with his client.
He says Bell failed to tell him that in the event of divorce, the amendment provided Alvaran with a percentage of Berenger’s future earnings and with rights to his estate upon his death.
Berenger, who divorced Alvaran in 2011, claims the amendment delayed his divorce and forced him to settle on “substantially less favorable” terms.
He says he lost more than $100,000 in the divorce.
Berenger seeks compensatory and punitive damages for legal malpractice, breach of fiduciary duty and breach of contract.
He is represented by Thomas Pendarvis.
Berenger, who was born Thomas Moore, is best known for his roles in action movies. He starred in the blockbusters “Born on the Fourth of July,” “The Big Chill,” “Major League” and “Inception,” and received a Golden Globe Award for his performance in the 1986 film “Platoon.”