Family dispute over $20 million estate likely to go before Balto. County jury

Two sisters say brother unduly influenced mother

January 04, 2000|By Joan Jacobson | Joan Jacobson,SUN STAFF

A Baltimore County jury likely will hear the unsettling details of a family feud over a woman's $20 million estate, now that the state Court of Special Appeals has ordered that the case involving the estate of Rose Posner go to trial in Baltimore County.

The ruling, issued last week, involves a suit thrown out in May by Baltimore County Circuit Judge John O. Hennegan as it was about to go to trial.

The suit was filed by Posner's two daughters -- one a psychiatrist -- who accuse their brother, a Mercy Medical Center doctor, of turning their mother against them before she rewrote her 12th and final will to leave each daughter $100.

The higher court ruled that the case against Dr. David B. Posner has enough merit to warrant a trial to decide whether he exerted undue influence over his mother. In throwing out the suit, Hennegan had ruled that pretrial evidence -- including two videotapes of the elderly woman signing her last will -- showed no signs of coercion.

The jury might get to see the videotapes of Rose Posner, prepared by her lawyer, Mark Willen, in which she states her intent to disinherit her daughters. The former elementary school teacher and homemaker, who lived in Lutherville, died Oct. 28, 1996.

Yesterday, Kurt J. Fischer, lawyer for the sisters, said, "We're glad we get to present to a jury" the sisters' side of the case.

Willen, the lawyer who represented Rose Posner and whose law firm represents David Posner, said yesterday he was not disappointed that the case will go to trial and is pleased the appeals court has barred the sisters from seeking punitive damages.

A jury will be allowed only to consider granting each sister one-third of their mother's estate.

Willen also said yesterday that he believes the evidence will show that Rose Posner was a strong-willed woman who disinherited her daughters without outside influence.

"This is what she wanted. It was very painful and difficult to disinherit them," he said.

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