Some of the most contentious and heated lawsuits are those involving estate disputes and will contests. In many cases, these lawsuits pit family members against one another as accusations are hurled and grievances aired. One particularly contentious estate dispute involves the estate of the late business mogul Robert Cohen.

Cohen’s daughter Claudia was previously married to billionaire Ronald Perelman. While the couple divorced in 1996, they remained close friends and successfully co-parented their daughter Samantha. In 2007, Claudia died after battling cancer for years. Shortly thereafter, her ex-husband who had been named executor of her estate filed a lawsuit against his ex-father-in-law, who was still living at the time.

At the center of the lawsuit, were claims by Perelman that Robert Cohen had promised his late daughter half of his estate. Cohen believed the lawsuit brought by Perelman was merely an attempt to take over his successful airport chain the Hudson News. The lawsuit was ultimately dismissed, but the rift was never healed between Perelman and Cohen, who subsequently died.

The most recent lawsuit between the Perelmans and Cohens now centers on Robert Cohen’s son James who controls Hudson News along with the rest of his late father’s business ventures. In the lawsuit, Robert Cohen’s granddaughter Samantha Perelman contends her uncle took advantage of her late grandfather and forced him to change his will prior to his death despite not being of sound mind.

As a result, Perelman asserts James Cohen was able to convince his elderly father to leave him the bulk of his estate. Additionally, Perelman contends a $5 million trust in her name was eliminated as were several million dollar payments which were previously bequeathed to her.

This case is likely far from over as both sides have much at stake and have already spent millions of dollars litigating. We’ll continue to discuss this monumental estate dispute as new issues arise.

Source: North Jersey, “Billionaire Perelamn-Cohen family feud returns to N.J. court,” Kibret Markos, Sep. 8, 2013