Most Ohio residents can likely recall the famous lines from the movie the Wizard of Oz advising Dorothy and her companions to "follow the yellow brick road". The man who was reportedly the voice delivering that message was Mickey Carroll who was also one of the so-called munchkins that celebrated Dorothy’s arrival in the land of Oz. The 4 ft. 9 inch 89-year-old actor died five years ago after suffering complications associated with Alzheimer’s disease. His estate was recently the subject of a lawsuit in which his family accused Carroll's former caregiver of undue influence.
In the estate dispute, Carroll's family members accused his female friend and caretaker of taking advantage of their loved one's diminished mental and physical condition prior to his death. As a result of the woman’s actions, the plaintiffs asserted Carroll transferred hundreds of thousands of dollars to her prior to his death. The plaintiffs also argued the defendant took actions to ensure they weren't able to communicate with Carroll prior to his death.
The case recently went before a jury who, after less than two hours of deliberation, sided with the defendant. While the plaintiffs sought monetary damages of "up to $249,000", asserting the defendant used undue influence and manipulation to exhort money from the deceased, members of the jury weren't convinced.
The defendant and several witnesses painted a picture of Carroll as a generous man who spent and gave money away freely. In her defense, the defendant chronicled the history of her long friendship with Carroll whom she eventually moved into her home and cared for. The defense further contended the very family members who filed the lawsuit had long ago abandoned Carroll.
In the wake of a loved one's death, estate disputes may arise for a number of reasons. While a jury decided undue influence was not a factor in this case, individuals with failing mental and physical health are often targets of such schemes. Individuals who believe a vulnerable loved one is being or was taken advantage of would be wise to discuss the situation with an attorney.
Source: Riverfront Times, "Lawsuit Over Estate of Deceased Munchkin, Mickey Carroll, Slated for Trial Next Week," Chad Garrison, May 9, 2014