WILMINGTON, DEL. (CN) - The widow of a director of one of Howard Hughes' companies sued the Hughes Corp. for $576,000, which she and her late husband had to spend on legal fees to defend themselves in a barrage of lawsuits from a man who claims Hughes left him $150 million in his will.
Mary Gay says her late husband, Bill, worked for Hughes for more than 30 years, and was a director of Hughes' Summa Corp. from 1962-1978.
According to her complaint in Chancery Court:
Shortly after Hughes died, in April 1976, a document a purporting to be Hughes' holographic will was found at the Salt Lake City headquarters of the Mormon church. It purported to leave 1/16th of Hughes' estate to a man named Melvin Dummar. Dummar claimed he saw Hughes hitchhiking in the Nevada desert in 1967 or 1968 and gave him a ride, for which Hughes was, uncharacteristically, grateful. The 1/16th share Hughes allegedly willed him was estimated to be worth $150 million at the time.
A Nevada probate court declared the will a forgery in 1978. During probate, Bill Gay testified that he was not in a position to say whether Hughes had left his residence during the time when Dummar claimed to have given the reclusive billionaire a ride. Other evidence indicated that Hughes had not left his home at the Las Vegas Desert Inn during that time.
In 2006, Dummar began barraging the Gays with lawsuits - in Utah and Las Vegas federal courts, and in Harris County, Houston - claiming that Bill Gay had conspired against Dummars to get the will declared a forgery. Dummars followed his unsuccessful claims with appeals, and more appeals.
Mary Gay says she and her late husband have accrued more than $576,000 in legal bills defending themselves from these baseless lawsuits. She claims the Hughes Corp. has refused to indemnify her, though it's obligated to do so by her late husband's contract with Summa Corp.
She is represented by David Eagle with Klehr, Harrison, Harvey.