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July 22, 2015

Calif. Hospital Sues Estate Over Revoked $5-Million Pledge

A prominent Southern California hospital's foundation is suing the estate of hair-care mogul Paula Kent Meehan to obtain a $5-million bequest she withdrew before her death last year, reports the Los Angeles Times.

Philanthropy experts told the newspaper that St. John's Health Center in Santa Monica, a Catholic hospital known for treating celebrity patients, may have a legal claim to the money but risks alienating other potential donors with the court fight.

Ms. Meehan, who co-founded the Redken line of hair products, offered the money in 2007 and signed an "estate pledge commitment" asserting that the promise was "legally binding" on her heirs and estate. She revoked the pledge, without stating a reason, in a letter in March 2013, a few months after St. John's ousted several top executives and board members. The St. John's foundation sought the money after Ms. Meehan died last year at the age of 82, but her estate refused.

"When a donor irrevocably pledges to make a gift, it is vital to our planning and budgeting that the gift is fulfilled," foundation head Robert O. Klein told the Times. The executors of Ms. Meehan's estate and their lawyer declined to comment.