Two siblings are poised to hit courtrooms in a battle over who is entitled to a slice of pie from the family pizza empire. The pizza chain, called John's Pizzeria, has at least one shop in New Jersey and several in a neighboring state. The dispute between the siblings apparently goes back to when their mother was the matriarch and owner of the company.
According to reports, the siblings involved are a brother and sister. The brother states that his mother cut him out of her estate around 2012. Reportedly, the brother was dealing with a divorce at that time, and there is some suggestion that his removal from the estate was a plot to keep his ex-wife from inheriting any of the family money.
The brother alleges that his sister made a deal with him at the time his mother changed the will. According to him, the sister agreed to later split the pizza-related inheritance even though she was the sole legal heir for the estate. He alleges that hasn't happened following his mother's death in 2014.
Court records show that the brother's initial legal claim was dismissed, as the original trial court did not hold that he had a contractual claim. A later appeals court, however, approved the lawsuit, stating that the brother had a legal premises for filing suit based on promissory estoppel and unjust enrichment. If he wins the case, however, he might end up facing a legal action from his ex-wife, who could be legally entitled to some of the inheritance.
This case, as are many estate cases, is complex. One of the issues adding complexity is the fact that the mother might have disinherited the son to keep his inheritance out of the divorce process. When making any decisions about your estate, it's a good idea to consult a knowledgeable attorney who can keep you from adding complexity to an already complex process.
Source: New York Daily News, "John's Pizzeria family to go to court over their empire," Brian Niemietz, March 09, 2016