A Family Defamation Case Study: Father v. Daughter

retro art to accompany blog post about a family defamation caseA high-profile family defamation case dominated legal headlines this week.

Attorney Richard Fischbein sued his daughter Beth Fischbein-Bodner for defamation. A ase begging for the Lifetime Original Movie treatment, Fischbein v. Fischbein-Bodner is the tale of two related attorneys and a trust fund.

Family Defamation Fight: Lawyer Father Sues Lawyer Daughter Over Trust Fund Allegations

Somewhere, currently walking the streets of New York, is an attorney whose represents Donald Trump and the Black Panthers. His name is Richard Fischbein and he’s suing his daughter for defamation.

What sparked the family feud? Well, we’ll never truly know. But according to reports, the story supposedly goes something like this:

Back in 1980, Richard established a trust fund for Beth, to be made available on her 21st birthday, in 1990. But if you believe Beth, Mr. Fischbein and his current wife allegedly and questionably accessed the account and adjusted the fund, giving Beth less than originally planned.

Fischbein-Bodner petitioned Surrogate Court for a trust fund audit. Apparently, Beth suspected the pair of using her money to leverage a mortgage. For his part, Papa Fischbein, denies any wrongdoing, chiding only that his daughter is an “ungrateful child.” But instead of a little silent treatment to demonstrate displeasure, Fischbein filed a $3 million lawsuit against his spawn for “maliciously and in bad faith” libeling his name and insinuating he engaged in financial misdeeds.

Why The Punitive Defamation Damages Request, Dad?

When the New York Daily News asked Fischbein about his family defamation saga, he lamented, “I wish it didn’t happen, ” then pointing out his financial contributions in terms of private schools, summer camps, and law school.

Fishbein’s public reticence is arguably at odds with his request for defamation damages. Dad wants his daughter to pay punitive damages — i.e., punishment damages — not just actual damages.

Richard Fishbein is famous for once suing the famous steakhouse Angelo & Maxie for $7 million. He claimed the restaurant defamed and “humiliated” him “for not leaving a $353 tip.” Viva la libel litigation!