Lawyer: Duke Mentally Incompetent Two Years Before Death
Jun. 13, 1995
NEW YORK (AP) _ Two years before she died, Doris Duke could not respond to a doctor's request to find her own elbow, according to a lawyer seeking to challenge the tobacco heiress' $1.2 billion will.
``The medical records will show that she couldn't find her own elbow or replicate the hands of a clock,'' Dan Howarth, a lawyer for Dr. Harry Demopoulos, told a judge Monday.
Demopoulos claims he was cut out of Duke's will because of undue influence by her butler, Bernard Lafferty. Demopoulos, named a co-executor in 1987, had stood to earn some $25 million in fees.
Manhattan Surrogate Eve Preminger did not say when she would rule.
Duke, daughter of James Buchanan Duke, a founder of the American Tobacco Co., died in 1993 at 80. Her last will gives Lafferty $5 million as a co-executor's fee, $500,000 a year for life and virtual total control over the rest of the estate.
Demopoulos and others claim Lafferty influenced the terminally ill woman to change her will, then conspired with her physician, Dr. Charles Kivowitz, to hasten her death.