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Donald Trump’s Niece Files Notice of Appeal After New York Court Dismisses Inheritance Fraud Lawsuit Against Trump Family


Mary Trump

Mary L. Trump, the niece of former president Donald Trump, filed a notice that she intends to appeal a recent court ruling that dismissed a lawsuit filed against her uncle and other members of the family.

While the notice of appeal is largely a procedural filing, Mary Trump’s lawyer Roberta Kaplan included an outline of the reasons for the appeal.

It reads, in full:

The Supreme Court erred in multiple respects in granting Defendants’ motions to dismiss. First, the Supreme Court erred by misstating and/or misapplying the applicable legal standard requiring that a release have been knowingly and fairly made in order to later be enforced with respect to claims that were unknown at the time of the release, including fraud claims. Second, the Supreme Court erred by failing to address in its analysis Plaintiff’s well-pleaded allegations that (1) Defendants threatened to bankrupt her and her interests, and leave her paying taxes on money she did not have, for the rest of her life if she did not comply with Defendants’ demands, (2) Defendants terminated the health insurance keeping her infant nephew alive, as well as Plaintiff’s own health insurance, in order to pressure Plaintiff to accede to their demands, and (3) Plaintiff’s legal counsel at the time was arranged by a trustee loyal to Defendants, and as a result, counsel did not provide Plaintiff with adequate and proper representation. Third, the Supreme Court erred by misconstruing the terms of the releases, including the structure of the related contracts in which they are found, and the context and circumstances in which they were executed. Finally, the Supreme Court erred by failing to address or decide the other grounds on which Defendants sought dismissal, including with respect to the statute of limitations and application of the fraud discovery rule.

In 2020, Mary Trump sued the ex-president, her late uncle Robert S. Trump, and ex-federal judge Maryanne Trump Barry on allegations that the trio of siblings defrauded her out of millions of dollars from an inheritance she received from her father, Fred C. Trump Jr., who died in 1981.

That substantial inheritance included 70 acres of land in New York City with more than 50 buildings and a shopping center, interest in buildings that held hundreds of apartments, and part of a 153-acre development. Additionally, she was named the beneficiary of a trust established by her father’s father Fred C. Trump Sr. in 1976.

While valued at several million dollars, Mary Trump’s interests were still a minority stake in the family real estate business. Her aunt and uncles were the fiduciaries who kept watch over her interests at the time she inherited them in 1981 – when she was 16 years old.

“Rather than protect Mary’s interests, they designed and carried out a complex scheme to siphon funds away from her interests, conceal their grift, and deceive her about the true value of what she had inherited,” the lawsuit alleged.

On Tuesday, a New York Supreme Court Justice Robert R. Reed dismissed the lawsuit. In the ruling, the low-level court held that Mary Trump had forfeited all rights to her inheritance – including the right to sue for alleged fraud – when she signed a settlement agreement in a breach of contract case against her family in 2001.

“Reading the releases and settlement agreement together, these documents clearly and unambiguously released defendants from unknown claims, including fraud claims,” Reed wrote.

In New York State, “supreme court” justices handle trial-level affairs.  The state’s intermediate appeals courts are called the “appellate division,” and the state’s highest court is the Court of Appeals.

Kaplan, Mary Trump’s attorney, assailed the dismissal immediately after it was issued and promised to appeal the court’s ruling in a statement to Law&Crime on Wednesday.

“The trial court’s decision is obviously disappointing, especially since it comes so late – more than two years after our case was filed,” Kaplan said. “We believe that the court overlooked certain key factual allegations, including that Mary Trump had a metaphorical ‘gun to her head’ since the Trumps cruelly terminated the health insurance necessary to provide life-saving medical care for her then infant nephew. We will be filing our appeal today.”

One of Mary Trump’s key arguments is that her uncles and aunts retaliated against her when she had initially refused to sign away her inheritance. That alleged retaliation, she said, came when she and her brother were removed from a health insurance plan that had been provided through Trump Management, denying crucial care to her then-infant nephew, who had been diagnosed with cerebral palsy.

The settlement agreement was entered into soon thereafter.

Mary Trump says she only learned about the allegedly false valuations in an October 2018 article by the New York Times.

Marisa Sarnoff contributed to this report.

[image via screengrab/ABC]

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