Trials & Litigation

Top Boies Schiller litigator sues his mother for defamation

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A top litigator for Boies, Schiller & Flexner has filed two lawsuits against his own mother.

Joined by two siblings, Nicholas Gravante Jr. filed a federal lawsuit in Fort Myers, Florida, in March seeking a declaratory judgment concerning their rights in property of their father, Nicholas Gravante Sr., a successful attorney and real estate investor who died intestate in 2015. A copy of the siblings’ suit can be found on Scribd.

Nicholas Gravante Jr. also filed a separate suit of his own against 81-year-old Elinor Gravante in state court in Florida the same month, asserting claims for tortious inference with business relationships and defamation, according to the Am Law Daily (sub. req.). The complaint in the Collier County case seeks over $15,000 in damages and asks for injunctive relief. The complaint says his mother is damaging his personal and professional reputation by making false statements about Gravante in calls to family, friends, neighbors and his law firm. Nicholas Gravante Jr. is a partner in Boies, Schiller & Flexner’s New York office, and is general counsel for the firm, according to the firm’s website.

In a subsequent suit of her own filed in April in federal court in Brooklyn, New York, Elinor Gravante contends that her three children refused, after her husband’s death, to pay her some $600,000 in annual rental income from four New York City properties she is promised by 2004 written agreements. She says that her children also misused a power of attorney they obtained from their father, while he was hospitalized after he suffered a series of strokes, to transfer her half-ownership of a $1.8 million vacation home in Connecticut to themselves. She is represented by Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle in the suit, which alleges breach of contract and seeks a declaratory judgment concerning property rights.

The siblings say that their mother has early-stage dementia and that they have acted in her best interest, the Am Law Daily reports.

In their complaint, they admit that they have not paid her 100 percent of the rental income from the four properties at issue after Nicholas Gravante Sr.’s death. However, they question the validity of the written agreements and say they are using the money exactly as their parents did over a 10-year period. “[T]hey have used those funds to defray the cost of their children’s tuition and have otherwise paid the net rentals to themselves in the same manner in which Nicholas Gravante, Sr., Defendant [Elinor] Gravante and plaintiffs used those funds during the period from 2004 to 2014,” the siblings’ complaint says.

It also says that their mother never objected to the vacation-home transfer, as it took place. Instead, the suit says, Elinor Gravante “affirmatively assisted” as the siblings put their parents’ home in the ownership of one sibling, who repaired and redecorated it.

But after the transactions took place, their mother said “she ‘changed her mind’ and wants to reverse the transfer she requested and caused to occur and on which plaintiffs and their families have substantially relied,” the siblings allege.

They are represented by GrayRobinson.

In a written statement provided to the Am Law Daily, the three siblings said:

“We are hopeful that things will be resolved amicably and in the best interests of our mother, who was married to our father for over 50 years. It is unfortunate that our mother, who has been dealing with serious health issues, including memory loss, has been advised to take action that delays progress and closure. We love her and will continue to support her financially and emotionally through this painful period.”

The lawyers representing Elinor Gravante in the Florida and New York cases either declined to comment or did not respond to a request for comment from the legal publication.

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