Lifestyle & Belief

Rich guy adopts 42-year-old girlfriend amid lawsuit


The Audi and White Birch teams play against each other on the polo grounds of the International Polo Club during the US Open in Wellington, Fla., on April 23, 2009.


Joe Raedle

West Palm Beach air conditioning fortune heir and polo club owner John Goodman, 48, has adopted his 42-year-old girlfriend in what some say is a cynical attempt to protect his assets in a lawsuit, the Palm Beach Post reported.

Goodman is currently being sued for wrongful death by the parents of 23-year-old Scott Patrick Wilson, who he killed when he ran a stop sign in his Bentley and crashed into Wilson’s car in February 2010, ABC News reported. According to ABC News:

Goodman did not call police or an ambulance, and left the crash scene on foot, police said. It was determined that Goodman's blood alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit.

A judge had previously ruled that the trust set up for Goodman's two minor children could not be considered as part of Goodman's net worth if punitive damages are awarded to the Wilsons, CBS News reported.

Now that Goodman’s girlfriend of three years, Heather Laruso Hutchins, is his third child, she is entitled to at least one-third of that trust, which she can get her hands on immediately since she is over age 35, CBS News reported. The trust is currently worth "several hundred million dollars," according to Goodman’s attorney Daniel Bachi, ABC News reported.

"By way of this adoption, John Goodman now effectively owns one third of the trust assets," William Wilson's attorney, Scott Smith, told the Palm Beach Post. "It cannot go unrecognized that he chose to adopt his 42-year-old adult girlfriend as opposed to a needy child."

"Nothing in this arrangement with Ms. Hutchins is illegal," Goodman’s attorney said in a statement, according to ABC News. "Everything that has been done by Mr. Goodman was done with the intention to preserve and grow the assets of the Trust for his two minor children, even should he personally be unable to continue his historical role in achieving these goals."

West Palm Beach Judge Glenn Kelley wrote in a court order that a probate court with authority over the trust will look into whether the adoption is a "sham," ABC News reported.

Goodman's civil trial is scheduled for March 27 and a criminal trial for charges of DUI manslaughter, vehicular homicide and leaving the scene of a crash is set for March 6, ABC News reported.

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