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McDonald v. Estate of Mavety

February 23, 2006

ANNETTE MCDONALD, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
ESTATE OF GEORGE MAVETY AND PHILLIP PERCY MAVETY, EXECUTOR OF THE ESTATE OF GEORGE MAVETY, DEFENDANT-RESPONDENT.



On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Probate Part, Sussex County, FM-19-345-01.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Lisa, J.A.D.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

APPROVED FOR PUBLICATION

Argued January 10, 2006

Before Judges Coburn, Lisa and S.L. Reisner.

After a bench trial, a final judgment was entered dismissing the palimony complaint of plaintiff, Annette McDonald, against the Estate of George Mavety. Plaintiff filed a motion for a new trial based upon the trial evidence, and then supplemented that motion with information pertaining to newly discovered evidence. The new information was that during the pendency of the palimony litigation, a witness called by the defense in the palimony trial, Nick Meintanas, had filed a suit against a company owned by George Mavety and against Mavety's attorney, Debra L. Nicholson, who was also called by the defense as a witness in the palimony trial. The judge denied the motion but granted plaintiff a limited post-trial discovery period to further develop the asserted newly discovered evidence. Plaintiff did not avail herself of the opportunity, but instead filed this appeal.

On appeal, plaintiff raises these arguments:

POINT I

THE TRIAL COURT ERRED BECAUSE ITS VIEW OF THE STANDARDS GOVERNING "PALIMONY" WERE OVERLY NARROW.

POINT II

THE COURT BELOW IMPOSED A BURDEN OF PROOF ON THE PROMISE WHICH WAS ERRONEOUS AND THE COURT BELOW DID NOT INDICATE WHAT BURDEN OF PROOF IT EMPLOYED ON THE ISSUE OF COHABITATION.

POINT III

THE FAILURE OF THE ESTATE OF GEORGE MAVETY AND HIS REPRESENTATIVES TO INFORM THE COURT AND COUNSEL OF THE PENDING NICK MEINTANAS LAWSUIT REQUIRES A NEW TRIAL.

POINT IV

THE COURT BELOW DREW INFERENCES THAT ARE NOT SUPPORTED BY CASE LAW OR THE RULES OF EVIDENCE.

We reject these arguments and affirm.

I.

George Mavety died at the age of sixty-three on August 19, 2000. He was a successful businessman, and his estate was valued between $21 and $36 million. He had been married three times, and at the time of his death, had been married to his third wife, Gertrud (Trudy), for about thirty years. Mavety and Trudy lived in a home, purchased at about the time of their marriage in 1970, on Stanhope Road, Sparta. However, in the 1980s, Mavety was involved in a relationship with Kyung Soon Nam, also known as "Miss Windy." In the 1980's, Mavety lived in New York City during the week, staying in an apartment with Miss Windy, and in Sparta on weekends. Mavety and Trudy separated in 1989. Mavety moved out of the Stanhope Road home and moved into a home he purchased at 24 Cherokee Court in Sparta.

Mavety continued to provide for Miss Windy. He provided her with an apartment in New York, and later, in 1999, purchased a home in West Orange for her to live in. He continued regular contact with Miss Windy and continued to provide for her until his death.

Mavety met plaintiff in January 1990. He was then fifty-three years old and she was twenty-four. She had a son, Earl Chaing, from a prior relationship. The relationship between plaintiff and Mavety became intimate. In June 1991, plaintiff gave birth to Mavety's son, Brandon, who died immediately after his birth. On December 9, 1993, plaintiff gave birth to Mavety's son, Chad Austin Mavety.

In early 1991, a company owned by Mavety, MMG Services, Inc., purchased a home at 8 Westgate Drive in Sparta, for plaintiff to live in with her son Earl, and later with Chad Austin. This home was about a ten minute drive from Mavety's home on Cherokee Court. In 1996, Mavety purchased another home in Sparta, at 16 Cheyenne Trail, to which plaintiff and her sons ...


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