When the late billionaire publisher Richard Mellon Scaife initialed his will, he was under the “undue influence” of attorney H. Yale Gutnick, according to a court petition filed by the publisher’s daughter on Thursday that seeks to set aside the will.
The petition in Westmoreland County’s Orphans Court Division, filed by Jennie Scaife, 52, of Florida, zooms in on the February 2013 day on which Mr. Scaife’s will was executed.
The publisher was
The will didn’t mention Ms. Scaife or her brother, David Scaife, 49, of Shadyside, the petition notes, leaving them neither money nor “any family heirlooms.”
Instead, according to the petition, the will safeguarded Mr. Gutnick, the chairman of the board of the Tribune-Review newspapers, a trustee in several Scaife family foundations and executor of the estate.
Mr. Gutnick declined comment. Mr. Groll, executive director of the Allegheny Foundation, could not be reached.
As Mr. Scaife’s cancer developed, according to the petition, he
The petition claimed that Mr. Scaife’s newspapers, now led by Mr. Gutnick, were
Unusually, Mr. Scaife placed his initials, rather than a signature, on the will. The witnesses to those initials included Mr. Groll and Mr. Scaife’s physician.
Undue influence is tough to prove, because it
Mr. Scaife’s will divided control of trust funds that held more than $700 million between the Sarah Scaife Foundation and the Allegheny Foundation. Mr. Gutnick has been involved with both foundations. Mr. Scaife created a separate trust fund, with an undisclosed balance, to support the Tribune-Review.
A separate challenge filed by Mr. Scaife’s son and daughter in November in Allegheny County alleges that Mr. Gutnick and two other trustees improperly allowed Mr. Scaife to drain a trust fund of $450 million, largely to subsidize the Tribune-Review.