“The court ruled [in an unrelated case] that if the lawyer doesn’t make a will the way the decedent wishes, the person who was left out doesn’t have any recourse against the lawyer,” Smith said. “It’s an interesting Catch 22 — It changes the landscape as far as civil action against Joey Bishop’s lawyers goes.”
Newport Chabad will now turn its attention to Los Angeles probate court, where it will continue to try to recover money from Bishop’s estate, Smith said.
The religious center claims Bishop wanted his estate to go toward setting up an entity called the Joey Bishop Foundation to fund a charitable program to help disabled children in Orange County
In a suit filed earlier this year in Orange County Superior Court, Newport Beach Chabad asked for damages in excess of $10 million for legal malpractice and breach of fiduciary duty, among other claims, according to court documents.
The suit named Nora Garibotti, Bishop’s former golfing companion, who lived with him in the later years of his life, Bishop’s agent, Ed “Hook” Hookstratten, Bishop’s financial advisor, Myles Hymes and Orange County attorney James “Kimo” McCormick as defendants.
Newport Beach Chabad claimed Bishop intended to leave part of his money to Chabad to benefit the charity’s programs for special-needs children, but Hookstratten, Garibotti, Hymes and McCormick took advantage of the Rat Packer’s deteriorating mental faculties to usurp his estate.
Bishop, who once performed with other Rat Pack legends such as Sammy Davis Jr., Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra and Peter Lawford, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in September 2004, the lawsuit claimed.