Widow of Jackie O designer Oleg Cassini sues her OWN lawyers for $13m over lost inheritance court appeal
20:59 GMT, 7 September 2012
The widow of Oleg Cassini, most famous for designing Jackie O's glamorous skirt suits during her years as First Lady, is suing her own lawyers over an inheritance dispute.
Marianne Nestor lost $13million of the late designer's estate to her stepdaughter, Christina Tierney, one of the daughters he had with his first wife, actress Gene Tierney.
In an attempt to win that money back, Ms Nestor is placing the blame on her lawyers, citing legal negligence despite the fact a New York appeals court upheld a lower-court ruling, which entitled Christina to a quarter of her father's estate.
Inheritance dispute: Marianne Nestor lost $13million of the late Oleg Cassini's estate to her stepdaughter, Christina Tierney, one of the daughters from his first marriage to actress Gene Tierney
Mr Cassini and Ms Tierney divorced in California in 1953, and their marriage termination mandated that half of Mr Cassini's estate be split equally between the couple's two daughters upon his death.
When Mr Cassini married Ms Nestor in 1971, she claimed he had actually willed $500,000 in trust to Daria, $1million to Christina and the remainder to her.
Glamour epitomized: Oleg Cassini is most famous for designing Jackie O's glamorous skirt suits during her years as First Lady
But when Mr Cassini died in March 2006,
at age 92, Christina argued she was still entitled to 25per cent of her
father's estate under the divorce agreement, and filed a claim in Nassau County Surrogate's Court in 2007.
And in May 2012, a New York appeals court finally awarded Christina her entitled $13million – a quarter of her father's estate.
Unhappy with the decision, Ms Nestor, who also sued Vanity Fair in 2010 for $10million after it published a story about the battle over Mr Cassini's estate, filed an appeal, and today filed another lawsuit, suing her own lawyers for $13million.
According to Ms Nestor's lawsuit, her attorneys William Pollak and Philip Kalban of Putney Twombly Hall & Hirson in New York failed to challenge Christina's 2007 claim under the statute of limitations, an act of 'negligence and malpractice'.
Courthouse News reported she is seeking $13million to cover her lost portion of Mr Cassini's estate, as well as the fact she incurred 'significant attorneys' fees, costs, and disbursements, and court costs and fees to move to reargue the improper granting of Christina's cross-motion.'
Suing your own lawyer is very rare.
John Nockleby, a professor of law and director of the civil justice program at Loyola Law School told ABC News: 'You have to show that in some important way the lawyer messed up, and secondly that the person would have won the underlying case.
'In a legal malpractice you have to show that your lawyer made an important error that a reasonably careful lawyer would not have made,' he added.
Andrew W. Mayoras, an estate litigation attorney said he believes there is little chance Ms Nestor will actually win her case.
He explained: 'It appears that Marianne Nestor Cassini, having failed in both New York and California – both in the initial courts and the courts of appeal in each state – now seeks to lay blame on the only target left.'