The estate of copper heiress Huguette Clark has lost a court battle to recover more than $4 million in gifts she made to the hospital where she lived the last nineteen years of her life, the New York Times reports.
Manhattan Surrogate Court Judge Nora S. Anderson ruled that the statute of limitations had expired for the estate to argue that officials at Beth Israel Medical Center had manipulated Clark, who died at age 104 in 2011, into making the gifts, which included a painting by Edouard Manet. The judge noted, however, that a separate lawsuit could proceed against two physicians and a nurse who cared for Clark and received about $3.6 million in gifts.
In court papers, the city's public administrator, which controls the estate, portrayed Clark as a weak-minded woman who suffered from mental illness and was easily influenced to write checks. The doctors and hospital officials assert, however, that she was mentally sharp and capable of deciding what to do with her money, noting that as late as 2007 she refused at least four requests from hospital administrators for large gifts. Anderson said the trial against Clark's nurse and physicians was needed to settle "the sharp factual dispute" between the parties that "cannot be resolved on papers," and that the lawsuit would turn on "whether or not the decedent possessed the higher level of mental capacity to support the ability to make valid gifts."
"We are gratified by the dismissal of the meritless claims against the hospital," said Marvin Wexler, the lawyer for the hospital, which was renamed Mount Sinai Beth Israel after merging with Mount Sinai Health System.