Durst Org accused of defamation by lawyer who sued Robert Durst

Attorney objects to claim that he was just trying to “make a buck”

TRD NEW YORK /
Mar.March 23, 2020 01:30 PM
From left: Attorney Robert Abrams, Robert Durst and Durst spokesperson Jordan Barowitz (Credit: Abrams via Abrams Fensterman; Durst by Robyn Beck-Pool/Getty Images; Barowits via Durst Organization)

From left: Attorney Robert Abrams, Robert Durst and Durst spokesperson Jordan Barowitz (Credit: Abrams via Abrams Fensterman; Durst by Robyn Beck-Pool/Getty Images; Barowits via Durst Organization)

A year ago, a Durst Organization spokesperson claimed that a wrongful-death lawsuit against Robert Durst was no more than “a lawyer’s attempt to make a buck.” Now that lawyer is suing for defamation.

Robert Abrams, an attorney for the family of Robert Durst’s first wife, the late Kathleen “Kathie” McCormack Durst, alleges that Durst spokesperson Jordan Barowitz and the Durst Organization knowingly disseminated false information to a broad audience “with spite and malice,” accusing him of a serious crime and harming his reputation.

Robert Durst has long been suspected of killing his first wife and is now on trial for the murder of another woman. He has not been part of the Durst family real estate business for decades. But the wrongful-death complaint alleged that shortly before her disappearance in 1982, Kathie sought to expose the Durst Organization’s involvement in illegal business activity, which led Robert Durst’s father Seymour to direct him “to take care of this problem.”

Last March, in response to the wrongful death suit filed by Abrams, Barowitz said that “the accusations are fiction, and this is a lawyer’s attempt to make a buck” — a statement that was published by several news outlets. It is now the basis of the defamation suit.

That wrongful-death suit was dismissed in August on the grounds that the statute of limitations had expired. Abrams is appealing that decision.

Abrams has argued that separate charges brought against Robert Durst in Los Angeles — in connection with the murder of crime writer Susan Berman in 2000 — establish a new statue of limitations period for the alleged murder of his first wife. Prosecutors say Robert Durst killed Berman to keep her from cooperating with authorities in a renewed probe into Kathie’s disappearance.

The long-awaited Los Angeles murder trial against Robert Durst, which began earlier this month, has been suspended because of the coronavirus outbreak. In New York, the defamation suit and the appeal of the wrongful-death suit are also on hold until at least April 19.

“We got Abrams’ last case dismissed, and we will get this one thrown out as well,” said Durst Organization attorney Charles Moerdler. Abrams declined to comment.


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