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Holland & Knight Files Elder Abuse Lawsuit on Behalf of Iconic Actor Mickey Rooney
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On behalf of Hollywood legend Mickey Rooney and his court-appointed conservator, attorneys Bruce S. Ross and Vivian L. Thoreen from Holland & Knight LLP have filed an elder abuse lawsuit.

The lawsuit alleges Rooney’s stepson, Christopher Aber, and his wife, Christina, abused Rooney over a decade, both financially and emotionally, which left him unable to control either his assets or his personal life. The Abers are charged with breach of fiduciary duty, as well as fraud originating from the elder abuse, and misappropriation of Rooney’s name and likeness, according to the September 15th prnewswire.com press release.

  
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In February, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Reva Goetz granted court protection to Rooney, and appointed Michael R. Augustine as his conservator. 

Rooney, at 90 years old, is one of the nation’s most iconic entertainers. His acting career has spanned his lifetime, which began during his childhood in the 1920s. He has appeared in over 300 films, as well as scores of television and stage productions. He served during WWII and has been the recipient of four separate stars on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame, something only a few other performers have also achieved. In spite of the heart surgery he underwent over a decade ago, he has continued to make cameo appearances in films.

According to the press release, Rooney, while still mentally and physically able, has nonetheless in recent years entrusted others for care and assistance. Sadly, Rooney alleges the Abers withheld food and medication on a regular basis, which led to bouts of depression.

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Bruce S. Ross of Holland & Knight was quoted as saying: “Clearly fame does not insulate an individual from the trauma and neglect of elder abuse, as Mickey Rooney’s case vividly demonstrates. Mickey was exploited by a close relative in whom he placed his trust and looked to for guidance. If a person of Mickey Rooney’s stature and profile can be victimized, there are untold numbers of less fortunate seniors who are similarly being abused in this country.” 

Rooney alleges that Aber went to great lengths to take advantage of his wealth, including listing himself as a signatory on all of Rooney’s accounts, including Densmore Productions, Inc., which is the primary method for management of Rooney’s professional activities. He also alleges Aber arranged for both debit and credit cards in the name of Densmore and used them on a regular basis, as well, he established and used perhaps a dozen credit cards. In addition, Rooney alleges Aber even set up a post office box, thus effectively preventing Rooney from receiving his mail and further keeping him in the dark about his finances.



Though Rooney asked, and pled for several years with Aber to discuss with him both his mail and his finances, Aber never told him anything of substance; in fact, per the press release, quite the contrary; Rooney alleges Aber threatened Rooney with both foreclosure on his home and loss of medical benefits to blackmail Rooney into making continued appearances, so Aber could continue his control of the estate, and the resulting benefits.

According to the press release, Rooney was quoted as having said in testimony before the Senate Special Committee on Aging earlier this year: “Over the course of time, my daily life became unbearable. Worse, it seemed to happen out of nowhere. At first, it was something small, something I could control. But then it became something sinister that was completely out of control. I felt trapped, scared, used, and frustrated. But above all, I felt helpless. For years I suffered silently. I couldn’t muster the courage to seek the help I knew I needed. Even when I tried to speak up, I was told to be quiet. It seemed like no one believed me.”

Founded in 1968, Holland & Knight is a full service, international law firm with more than 1,000 lawyers in 17 U.S. offices. The firm provides representation in litigation, business, real estate and governmental law, and has one of the nation’s largest and most diverse private wealth services practices.



 

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