Car Mogul’s Mistress, Family Battle over His Will

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Atlanta, GA—For the second time, a dispute over a wealthy man’s will goes before the Georgia Supreme Court.

The battle over Harvey Strother’s estate rages between his wife and three children on one side, and his mistress, Anne Melican, on the other. Attorneys for the Strother family claim that Melican used sex and alcohol to influence the car-dealership mogul, convincing him just a month before his death to change his will.

In December 2003, authorities say, Melican wheeled Strother into his attorney’s office and watched while Strother and his attorney changed the will, granting her about $6 million of his $37 million estate. At that time, Strother was allegedly drinking over a gallon of wine each day, and was so incapacitated by alcohol that he wore adult diapers.

Strother’s alcoholism began in 1988, when his adult daughter died of diabetes. At that time, he made out his will, leaving the bulk of his assets to his family. Later on, after meeting Melican, however, he made several amendments to his will. The mistress received an almost $8,000-a-month allowance in addition to property on Marco Island, FL and Cape Cod, MA, and a Florida property for her son. She also received health insurance.

Just a month after the final amendment to his will, Strother died at age 78. After his death, his grandson challenged the amendments, alleging that Melican was a sly manipulator who used alcohol and sex to con a fragile, ill man into bequeathing her valuable assets.

Attorneys for Melican pointed to lavish gifts that the mistress had received in the past, including diamonds, vacations and plastic surgeries, as proof that the amendments to the will were not unduly orchestrated by Melican.

The case wound up in Georgia Supreme Court last year, but justices sent the case to a jury trial. After a two-week trial in July 2008, however, a jury found for Melican regarding two of the amendments, and for the Strother family on the final one. Appeals were presented by both sides, and the case recently returned to the Supreme Court to be hammered out once again.

Two witnesses to one of the amendments claim that they were not present at the time of the signing, leading to motions by the Strothers’ attorney that this amendment should be disregarded. Lawyers for Melican, however, claim that both of those witnesses were aging and may have forgotten their presence at the signing of the amendment.

 

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