A jury sided with the Portland Museum of Art in Maine on Monday in a lawsuit over a benefactor's will that was changed shortly before her death, withdrawing the museum from promised gifts.
In the lawsuit, the museum contended that the woman's caretaker coerced her into changing her estate plan which had earlier earmarked an art collection and funds for the museum. Caretaker Annemarie Germain was later named as the sole beneficiary of Eleanor Potter's estate.
The museum's legal action described "elder abuse" in Germain's handling of Potter's financial affairs.
Germain's lawyers argued that the two were friends, and that the museum's accusations were “largely on inadmissible or out of context evidence such as hearsay, improper lay opinions disguised as facts.”
Potter, a longtime supporter of the museum and a member of its leadership committee, died in 2015 at age 89.
The museum said the art and cash intended as a gift from Potter would have been worth $3.3 million. In the court decision, the jury agreed and included punitive damages, bringing Germain's total due to $4.6 million.