UPDATED May 17, 3:15 p.m.: It’s been 16 years since Victor Posner passed away, but the legal war over the remnants of the master corporate raider’s real estate empire lives on.
Brenda Nestor — a former-girlfriend-turned-business-associate of Posner’s who was named the primary beneficiary of his $321 million estate in 2002 — has filed suit against the prominent law firm Akerman for breach of fiduciary duty, legal malpractice and civil conspiracy.
According to the complaint filed in Miami-Dade Circuit Court last month, Nestor alleges that she suffered damages as a result of “negligent and reckless” legal advice Akerman provided to her court-appointed successor of Posner’s estate.
“The complaint speaks for itself,” said Maury Udell, Nestor’s attorney. “Our client feels wronged by this firm that was looking out for its own interest.” An Akerman spokesman did not respond to an email and a phone message seeking comment.
In 2015, Miami-Dade Judge Celeste Hardee Muir removed Nestor after she allegedly disobeyed previous court orders for her failure to provide a full accounting of her actions as the Posner estate’s personal representative, according to court documents. Muir replaced Nestor with Philip von Kahle, a lawyer and a broker with Fort Lauderdale estate planner Moecker & Associates.
Nestor accuses von Kahle — who is not named as a defendant in her lawsuit — of making her a scapegoat with regard to the Posner estate’s dire finances. “Exercising his newly-developed twenty-twenty hindsight of the Great Recession that occurred in the late 2000s to early 2010s, [von Kahle] began to second guess thousands of transactions that Nestor engaged in while acting as personal representative,” her lawsuit states. “[Von Kahle] began attempting to ‘Monday-morning quarterback’ Nestor’s actions during her 13-year appointment personal representative, many of which were approved by the probate court.”
In her suit, Nestor alleges that von Kahle hired Akerman, which provided him with improper advice such as recommending he file a lawsuit in 2016 against Fidelity to claim a $23.1 million bond she had posted back in 2002 that allowed her to operate Posner’s real estate business through his estate.
That von Kahle lawsuit claims that Nestor caused the Posner estate to lose $375 million in value to negative $50 million during her tenure as personal representative. Her successor also accused Nestor of pouring “tens of millions of dollars into worthless businesses that were insolvent and had no value to the estate.”
Nestor also dipped into the estate and improperly distributed money to herself and companies in which she had a personal stake, according to the Von Kahle complaint.
In her lawsuit, Nestor accuses Akerman of breaching its fiduciary duty by failing to advise the court of conflicts of interests von Kahle had regarding the sale of assets by self-dealing, of which the law firm had knowledge.
Correction: An earlier version of this story cited an allegation against Nestor from a 2016 lawsuit filed by Von Kahle that he subsequently removed in an amended complaint a year later.