Trials & Litigation

Polo Mogul Adopts Girlfriend, 42, as His Daughter in Claimed Ploy to Shield Assets from Pending Suit


In a move that has elicited outrage from plaintiffs’ counsel in a wrongful death case, a Florida polo mogul has adopted his 42-year-old girlfriend.

Since she is over 35, Heather Laruso Hutchins is entitled to an immediate one-third share in a trust set up for John Goodman’s two minor children, the Palm Beach Post reports.

Goodman, who founded the International Polo Club Palm Beach in Wellington, faces a criminal driving under the influence case and a wrongful death lawsuit brought by the parents of a Scott Patrick Wilson, who was killed in a 2010 car crash. Police say Goodman ran a stop sign and hit Wilson. Both cases are scheduled to go to trial next month.

It isn’t just plaintiffs’ counsel who are rolling their eyes at Goodman’s adoption of Hutchins in Miami-Dade Circuit Court last October, according to the newspaper.

“The events which serve as the grounds for the relief sought by the plaintiffs border on the surreal and take the court into a legal twilight zone,” wrote 15th Judicial Circuit Judge Glenn Kelley in a recent order that gives lawyers for the accident victim’s parents, Lili and William Wilson, a right to get more information about the adoption. Ordinarily, adoption files are confidential.

However, attorney Dan Bachi, who represents Goodman, said the adoption had nothing to do with the pending lawsuit and is simply an estate-planning tool, according to the newspaper.

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