Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

PNC Responds to Fight over Scaife Trust Fund

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

PNC Responds to Fight over Scaife Trust Fund

Article excerpt

PNC Bank is willing to provide details on transfers out of a trust fund at the center of a dispute between Richard Mellon Scaife's children and three trustees, according to court filings Tuesday.

"If an accounting of the type sought is warranted after considering the positions of all parties to this proceeding, PNC Bank stands ready to comply with such a direction of this court and file an accounting," attorneys Samuel Braver and Deborah Little wrote in answers on behalf of the bank, which is one of three trustees to the emptied fund.

A yearslong family dispute became public last month when the late publisher Richard Mellon Scaife's daughter, Jennie, and son, David, filed petitions in Allegheny County Orphans Court demanding an accounting for a trust fund created by their grandmother in 1935. It contained $210 million in 2005, according to their petition, but was empty as of their father's July death.

Michael J. Hussey, an associate professor of law at Widener University's Harrisburg campus, said that if the trust was not a subject of litigation, a majority of trustees would likely have to agree to provide an accounting. However, if a judge orders an accounting, a lone trustee could conceivably comply, even over the objections of others.

Mr. Hussey said that PNC's answers amount to the bank "positioning itself to say, 'Judge, if you sign an order to do this, we'll do it.' "

The son and daughter were "remaindermen," entitled to any funds left upon their father's death. The fund was drained without regard to their interests, they alleged, to cover losses of the Tribune- Review newspapers.

Using trust funds to cover Tribune-Review operations was neither "a waste of assets nor a breach of any fiduciary duty or an otherwise improper or unlawful act," PNC's attorneys wrote. …

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