The Estate of comic book legend Stan Lee is making progress in wrapping up one of several legal battles alleging exploitation and abuse by members of Lee’s inner circle, according to a recent article from The Hollywood Reporter titled “Stan Lee’s Estate Settles Elder Abuse Suit Against Ex-Business Manager.”
Stan Lee passed away in November, 2018 at the age of 95. At the time, the Estate of the man responsible for creating or co-creating the most popular and iconic Marvel characters, including Captain America and Black Panther, was valued at $50 Million.
Court documents filed in late July, 2022, show that Lee’s estate has moved to dismiss claims against his former business manager, Jerardo “Jerry” Olivarez. The settlement does not include claims against Lee’s former attorney Uvi Litvak, which are still pending.
This particularly nasty battle revolves around Lee’s daughter Joan Celia Lee (who goes by J.C.). and people who manipulated her in their efforts to exploit her father. Lee accused J.C., his only daughter, of verbally abusing him. There were reports of her outbursts turning physical, and most were conflicts over money.
Lee sued Olivarez and Litvak in 2018, accusing both men of seeking to take advantage of him after his wife Joan Lee died the previous year. Olivarez was a consultant to J.C. and Stan’s wife Joan Lee’s business interests, before obtaining Power of Attorney for Lee after Joan died.
According to the complaint, Olivarez fired the banker who had worked with Lee for twenty-six years, along with Lee’s team of attorneys. He transferred about $4.6 million out of Lee’s bank account without proper authorization and, after obtaining Power of Attorney from Lee, Olivarez appointed his own attorney, Litvak, as Lee’s attorney, without disclosing the conflict of interest inherent in the move.
Lee said Olivarez also tricked him into lending $300,000 to a company purporting to be a nonprofit, which was actually a merchandising company. He said Olivarez purchased a condo for $850,000, moved nearly $1.4 million from Lee’s accounts using a series of wire transfers and modified Lee’s will, all without his permission.
Lee alleged fraud, financial abuse, elder abuse and misappropriation of his name and likeness, among many other claims.
Prosecutors are still pursuing another case against Lee’s former business manager, Keya Morgan. He was charged with felony theft, embezzlement, fraud and false imprisonment of an elder adult. Lee was granted a restraining order in 2018 against Morgan, who was accused of isolating Lee from his friends and family and using his position to embezzle art, cash and assets valued at more than $5 million.
Elder financial abuse takes many different forms. The National Council on Aging reports up to five million older Americans are abused every year. The annual loss by victims of financial abuse is estimated to be at least $36.5 billion. The best protection for aging parents is to have an estate plan created by an experienced estate planning attorney and to remain actively involved with trusted family members and friends who are looking out for their best interests. If you, or someone you know has been subject to elder financial abuse, The Senior Source’s Elder Financial Safety Center can provide assistance.
Reference: The Hollywood Reporter (July 27, 2022) “Stan Lee’s Estate Settles Elder Abuse Suit Against Ex-Business Manager”