Judge tosses fraud claim in Mel Simon estate case

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A Hamilton County judge has dismissed a fraud claim leveled by one of Melvin Simon's daughters in her lawsuit challenging the late developer’s estate plan.

Judge William J. Hughes of Hamilton Superior Court ruled that the plaintiff, Deborah Simon, failed to argue that her stepmother Bren committed fraud with “sufficient specificity.”

He said the general allegations contained in Deborah’s suit, filed in early January, didn’t comply with an Indiana trial rule requiring plaintiffs to provide enough information to enable defendants to prepare a proper defense.

In his March 19 order, the judge gave Deborah’s attorneys the opportunity to refile the claim with additional detail. An attorney representing Deborah, who is Bren’s stepdaughter, declined to comment.

The ruling is a setback for Deborah’s effort to throw out changes in the plan her billionaire father signed off on in February 2009, seven months before he died at age 82. But even if her attorneys fail to sway the judge to reconsider, the parties will continue to litigate Deborah’s other claims, which include undue influence and duress.

Deborah contends her father was suffering from dementia and didn’t understand what he was doing when he revised the plan, boosting the share of his fortune going directly to Bren from one-third to one-half.

The changes also wiped out a portion that was to go to Deborah and her siblings from Melvin’s first marriage—Cynthia Simon-Skjodt and David Simon, the chairman and CEO of Simon Property Group—and left charitable gifts stipulated in prior versions to Bren’s discretion.

Bren, 66, who married Melvin in 1972, contends the changes fully reflected his wishes.

Melvin Simon was one of Indiana’s richest men. Forbes magazine in March 2009 estimated his net worth at $1.3 billion. Shares of Simon Property, his principal holding, have zoomed higher since, perhaps pushing the value of his fortune past $2 billion.




  • tthrow out the new will
    Bren,just because you married to him for 40 year,"you do not have the rigth to claim that momey".you need to take,the fist settlement.
  • fair share
    just award everyone a fair share and let them decide how to devy it up with charity
    all biological children should get something i think the spouse is just trying to be greedy and i dont think the man changed his will on his own i think he was "encouraged" to do it possibly under threat of duress
  • c'mon
    What purpose did it serve to change the will from 1/3 to 1/2, only one person benefits from that and it seems a little odd Mel is going to wait that long to change his will. It doesn't matter how long they were married, Mel's kids deserve a share of the estate and the charitable contributions that Mel is so known for could use the money too.
  • Deborah, GET A JOB
    Deborah, I hope you tell your overpaid attorney that he doesn't get to charge you for making that mistake. Bad! Make sure you check that bill, cuz you know, you might end up paying it yourself because I don't think you are going to get any judge to feel sorry for you.

    Poor Bren! She has been married, what, 40 years to Mel? Give me a break. Mel's only mistake in life appears to be overindulging a spoiled rotten daughter who never figured out the free ride would end.

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