Monday, April 4, 2011

The Battle Over Etta James' Money Trudges On

After news broke earlier this year that legendary singer Etta James was suffering from dementia, leukemia and kidney problems requires round-the-clock at-home care, her husband of 41 years, Artis Mills, moved to get his hands on her fortune. Etta's son, Donto, however, wasn't having it and at a court hearing in February his lawyer suggested that Etta could be “in very serious danger” while under the care of $20,000-a-month live-in physician Dr. Elaine James, who is no relation. A judge ordered two independent physician reviews of Dr James. This afternoon, the results were in and Etta's lawyer told the court her client's care "is glowing." After the status update, the parties got down to the important business at hand -- Etta's money!
After a lengthy morning hearing, both sides agreed to try to mediate their differences through a court program, with a July 29 report date on the outcome. [Judge Thomas Cahraman] said he will rule later this week on how much should be contributed from bank accounts that were frozen because of the probate dispute to a working joint account for Mills and James. Mills uses the joint account to pay for not only James’ estimated $30,000 a month in overall medical expenses, but household, staff and business expenses as well, his attorney Bettye Barnard told Cahraman on Monday. Barnard said the amount should be $30,000 a month, while Joseph E. Deering Jr., attorney for Donto James, said it should be $10,000, noting that the joint account is occasionally replenished by the royalty checks from Etta James’ recordings. But Barnard says those royalty checks, which can sometimes top $100,000, are getting smaller, because the sales of James’ recordings were boosted by concerts and promotions, which she is no longer doing. The judge also urged attorneys to complete exchanges of information, and ordered Mills to supply up-to-date records for the joint account.
Money. Money. Money. MONEY!
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