Trusts & Estates

Disinherited Charities Sue Ex-Nixon Peabody Lawyer Over $748,500 They Say He Got Via Undue Influence

A former Nixon Peabody lawyer is facing a case brought by another well-known law firm in Buffalo, N.Y., over $748,500 that onetime charitable beneficiaries of a woman who died in 2008 say he obtained through undue influence.

The Erie County Surrogate’s Court is being asked to sort out the claims against attorney Stephen M. Newman, who served as the trusts and estate lawyer for June Farrington, reports the Buffalo News in the first article of a two-part series. He worked for Nixon Peabody until last year, the article says.

“When we took a look at what occurred here, it caused us to pause,” chairman Daniel C. Oliverio of Hodgson Russ told the newspaper. “We’re confident the surrogate will be able to get to the bottom of it, one way or the other, and sooner rather than later.”

However, another prominent lawyer who represents Newman said in a court filing that he did nothing wrong and was doing what Farrington wanted when he helped her change her will shortly before her death.

“She had second thoughts about leaving her wealth to charities with which she had no real relationship, so she asked her attorney to change her bequests to benefit her brother and her caregiver,” wrote Terrence M. Connors.

Related coverage:

Buffalo News: “Probe finds ‘improper conduct’”

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