Paul Newman’s daughters are suing the late actor’s charity over allocating funds

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) – A new lawsuit has exposed a deep rift between two of Paul Newman’s daughters and the late actor’s charitable foundation, which is funded by profits from Newman’s Own line of food and drink products.

Daughters Susan Newman and Nell Newman allege that Newman’s Own Foundation cut their mandated contributions to their own charities from $400,000 a year to $200,000 a year.

They filed a lawsuit Tuesday in state court in Stamford, Connecticut, seeking $1.6 million in damages to be donated to their charitable foundations.

The daughters say their father, who set up the Newman’s Own Foundation three years before his death in 2008, allowed the foundation to use his name and likeness – but only under a number of conditions, including that he married each of the two daughters $400,000 a year.

Susan Kendall Newman, who lives in Oregon, and Nell Newman, from California, fear the foundation is setting the stage to take away any say they have over how a portion of profits from Newman’s Own products are donated to charities. They also accused the foundation of “going against” their father’s wishes and intentions for years.

“No one should have to feel that the legacy of a deceased loved one is dishonored in the way that Newman’s Own Foundation disregarded Paul Newman’s daughters,” Andy Lee, a New York attorney for the daughters, said in a statement.

“This lawsuit does not seek personal redress for Mr Newman’s daughters, it merely seeks to hold (Newman’s Own Foundation) accountable to the charities they have neglected in recent years and would ensure that they in the future receive a higher degree of assistance with Mr. Newman’s wishes,’ he said.

Paul Newman donates a popcorn stand to the City of New York for his “Newman’s Own Popcorn” on November 15, 1984, with proceeds going to charity. (Richard Drew/AP)

The Newman’s Own Foundation has not yet filed a response to the lawsuit in court, but has released a statement.

“Best practices around philanthropic organizations do not allow for the establishment of perpetual grants of funding for anyone, including Nell and Susan Newman,” the statement said. “An unfounded lawsuit based on this erroneous wish would only siphon money from those who benefit from Paul Newman’s generosity.”

The foundation added, “While we expect to continue to seek recommendations from the Newman family for worthy organizations, our funding decisions are made each year and will continue to reflect Paul Newman’s clear purpose and our responsibility for best practice in the management of private foundations. “

Paul Newman, who lived in Westport with his wife, actress Joanne Woodward, founded the Newman’s Own brand in 1982 with all profits going to charities. Today, the product line includes frozen pizza, salsa, salad dressings and pasta sauces, as well as dog food and pet treats.

In his will, Paul Newman left his fortune to his wife and to the Newman’s Own Foundation.

Newman’s Own, the product company, is a subsidiary of Newman’s Own Foundation, a non-profit organization.

The foundation says more than $570 million has been donated to thousands of charities since 1982.

According to 2020 tax records, the foundation had revenues of more than $24 million and paid out $11.5 million in contributions, gifts, and grants. Operating and administrative costs were nearly $4.5 million.

According to his daughters’ lawsuit, the Newman’s Own Foundation wrote to them just four days after their father’s death, saying it reserved the right to stop allocating funds to charities named by the daughters. The lawsuit states that this went against Paul Newman’s express instructions to the foundation.

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