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Defense “Adopts” Unusual Strategy in Wrongful Death Suit

By February 8, 2012July 15th, 2019Uncategorized

John Goodman, who has been accused of the wrongful death of Scott Wilson, has chosen an unusual move to try and protect his assets in the civil lawsuit that has resulted: He has adopted his girlfriend as his daughter.

Goodman allegedly ran a stop sign and in so doing, killed Wilson in 2010. The lawsuit has called for substantial damages, and that’s what has led to this extremely bizarre attempt by Goodman to protect his assets.

He had previously set up a major portion of his assets as a trust for his two current children. Adopting his girlfriend as his daughter allows her access to another portion of his assets through the same trust, dividing his belongings into thirds among his children.

The move is basically an attempt to further complicate the proceedings. Depending on how the trusts are set up, the assets may be considered the property of Goodman’s children and thus exempt from the lawsuit. On the other hand, the courts could easily rule that any of the children, including the recently adopted Heather Hutchins, are not permitted to collect from the trusts until the suit has been settled and the damages properly allocated.

But more than anything, this kind of behavior illustrates the sheer audacity and chicanery a wrongful death defendant might try in an effort to protect their money. Tax shelters and offshore accounts are one thing, but adopting a longtime romantic partner as a daughter, solely in an attempt to limit what the plaintiff may attempt to claim as damages, shows an outright contempt for the legal process — the rich claiming access to special loopholes not available to a suffering family.

State officials described it as an abuse of the adoption laws of Florida, which are meant to protect and promote parent-child relationships, not this kind of farcical behavior.