Two daughters of legendary Hollywood actor Paul Newman filed suit Tuesday against the family foundation, claiming their late father’s legacy is “under assault” by the organization.
Elinor “Nell’ Newman and Susan Newman are suing Newman’s Own Foundation for breach of fiduciary duty, alleging the board of directors has ignored their dad’s wishes by slashing the amount of money they each receive to give to charity, according to the filing in Connecticut state court.
“Mr. Newman granted to Newman’s Own Foundation the rights to his name, image and likeness and other publicity and intellectual property rights, but not unconditionally,” the lawsuit states.
“Instead, Mr. Newman made that grant on the condition that Newman’s Own Foundation allocate $400,000 each year to each of his ‘Daughters’ Foundations,’ for them to donate to charities identified by his daughters pursuant to specific rules that he established,” it continues.
The suit claims the board cut the yearly amount each of the daughters receive to direct charitable donations to $200,000 from $400,000.
The renowned actor and philanthropist created the Newman’s Own Foundation three years before his death in 2008. The nonprofit controls the Newman’s Own Inc. food company that funds the private foundation through its profits after-tax.
“The years since Mr. Newman’s death consist of a long and consistent pattern of disregard, by those in control, of Mr. Newman’s specific intentions and direction, coupled with mismanagement, scandal, and questionable practices,” claims the suit.
The lawsuit claims the star’s legacy is being attacked by the “very organization he founded in an effort to preserve and expand” it.
The daughters, who aren’t members of the board of directors, are seeking $1.6 million in damages to be donated to charities of their choosing, along with a judgment that requires the foundation to abide by what they say were their dad’s wishes.
“This lawsuit does not seek personal compensation for Mr. Newman’s daughters, but simply seeks to hold Newman’s Own Foundation accountable to the charities they have shortchanged in recent years,” their lawyer Andy Lee said in a statement.
Three other daughters and Paul Newman’s widow, the actress Joanne Woodward, aren’t part of the lawsuit against the foundation.
A spokesman for the Newman family said the other members declined to comment.