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Newport Beach Chabad to drop lawsuit against Joey Bishop estate

June 17, 2009|By Brianna Bailey

Newport Beach Chabad Center is dropping a lawsuit that claimed late Rat Packer and longtime Newport Beach resident Joey Bishop’s advisors and live-in caretaker blocked his final wishes to have part of his estate go toward setting up a charity for special-needs children in Orange County, an attorney for the Jewish religious center said this week.

Bishop died in October 2007 at his Lido Isle home at the age of 89, sparking an ongoing battle over his fortune.

A recent court of appeals ruling on a separate case unrelated to the feud over Bishop’s multimillion-dollar estate has blocked Newport Chabad from pursuing its civil case, said Doug Smith, an attorney for the religious center.

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“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.

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