Attorney Sues His Daughter for Libel Over Trust Fund Accounting

By Deanne Katz, Esq. on October 30, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Attorneys are generally more litigious than other people but the attorney who sued his daughter this week takes the cake.

To be fair, Richard Fischbein's daughter, Beth Fischbein-Bodner, is the one who first involved the legal system. She asked a judge for an accounting of her trust fund which she was supposed to collect back in 1990. As part of her request she accused him of mishandling the trust.

In response, Fischbein filed a $3 million suit for libel against his own child. He says she's being ungrateful, which is irrelevant, and that what she says is untrue, which could be important.

Fischbein-Boder's claim is that while she was supposed to get her trust fund in 1990, her father and step-mother asked her to extend the terms a few times, reports the New York Daily News. She also claims that two pieces of land contained in the trust were swapped for two less desirable pieces by the time she got them.

In the end the trust was worth $114,000. It's unclear if that's different from the expected value.

Her claim might have some merit if there's evidence that Fischbein mishandled the trust. But he's saying her accusations are unfounded.

Well, he's almost saying that. Besides accusing her of lying in general, Fischbein has said that he paid for her private education including college and law school, paid her living expenses, and hired her at his firm. Those are all great things for a parent to do but they don't preclude her from bringing this suit.

It doesn't matter how much money Fischbein lavished on his daughter growing up. As the administrator of her trust account he's required to protect the funds to the best of his ability. If he didn't do that he could be in trouble, even if he spent that value on her during childhood.

Then again, if Fischbein-Boder is lying, she could be the one in the hot seat.

Publishing false statements that cause harm, such as reputational damage, is libel and a losing defendant can be forced to pay for any damage the lies caused. Whether the statements were lies is for a court to decide.

Or maybe it's not. Fischbein may be willing to back off of his lawsuit, reports New York Post. His spokesman said they may be able to resolve this 'family matter.'

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