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Newport Beach Chabad to drop lawsuit against Joey Bishop estate

June 17, 2009|By Brianna Bailey

Garibotti’s attorneys disputed the claim and contend Bishop was alert and competent up until the final months of his life.

Although Garibotti has claimed in legal documents she was Bishop’s longtime, live-in companion after the death of his wife, Sylvia Bishop, in 1999, Chabad claimed in legal papers Garibotti was only a housekeeper and caretaker.

“Mr. Bishop became unable to distinguish between his personal and professional relationships, frequently characterizing anyone who visited him as “a dear friend,’” the lawsuit alleged. “Mr. Bishop was acutely vulnerable to the suggestions of others, was no longer able to determine his own wishes and best interests, and was subject to the exercise of influence by others.”

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Newport Beach Chabad’s director Rabbi Reuven Mintz, who declined to comment this week on the lawsuit, was a longtime friend and spiritual advisor to Bishop. Mintz claims Bishop told him and others he wanted his estate to go to charity.

At Bishop’s encouragement, Mintz traveled to Michigan in 2002 to meet with the founders of Friendship Circle, a program that offers support for children with special needs and their families, according to the lawsuit. Newport Beach Chabad now runs its own chapter of the Friendship Circle in Orange County, without support from Bishop’s estate. The program partners teenage volunteers with special-needs children for a variety of activities.

Bishop decided in 2005 that he did not want to leave his money to charity, attorney Robert Julian, who represents Garibotti, said earlier this year.

“In my opinion, it’s unfortunate that the rabbi has not apparently accepted Joey Bishop’s decision that he did not want to provide any more to charity because he had already provided so much over the years,” Julian told the Daily Pilot in March.

Calls to Julian were not immediately returned on Wednesday. Adam Streisand, an attorney for McCormick, also could not immediately be reached for comment.


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