GH&C Litigation Team Secures Victory For Estate

July 9, 2013 | Comments Off on GH&C Litigation Team Secures Victory For Estate
Posted by Robert J. Feinberg

Recently, in a contested matter the Superior Court of New Jersey agreed with attorneys from Giordano, Halleran & Ciesla, P.C., that “palimony” claims cannot be disguised as “equity” claims in the absence of proof that a former girlfriend utilized any of her own funds to acquire the assets to which she claimed a one-half ownership interest in Estate assets.  The plaintiff had enjoyed a long-term, romantic relationship with the firm’s client until his untimely death.  Thereafter, the plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the Estate, claiming an equal ownership interest in the numerous assets accumulated while she was living with the decedent.  The palimony component of the complaint was dismissed and the balance of the case was transferred to the General Equity Division for the Court’s consideration as to whether an independent cause of action existed against the Estate based on equitable claims and theories.  The Estate, at that point, turned to GH&C chancery litigator Robert J. Feinberg, Esq., who, along with associate Matthew F. Fiorovanti, moved for dismissal based on the theory that where there is no proof that the former girlfriend contributed any of her own money or services toward acquiring the numerous assets acquired during the course of the parties’ relationship, the plaintiff was not entitled to any ownership interest in any of those assets upon the death of her former cohabitant.  In an unusual fashion, the trial court conducted a limited trial, via limited testimony, considering same in the Estate’s Summary Judgment dismissal application. The court, in accepting the arguments advanced by GH&C, applied well-settled law regarding “palimony” claims in New Jersey, along with traditional equitable principles, and found that the plaintiff was not entitled to any share in any of the assets acquired by the firm’s client.  Plaintiff’s complaint was dismissed with prejudice, with the Estate prevailing.

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