Broward News

Polo Mogul John Goodman's Family Feud

A decade ago, a family feud forced Wellington polo mogul John Goodman to step down as overseer of a trust fund meant to benefit his nieces and nephews.

The legal spat provides a rare window into the private life of Goodman, 46, the multimillionaire founder of the International Polo Club Palm Beach who last month was charged with causing a drunken car crash that killed 23-year-old Scott Wilson.

Goodman has three siblings, Greg, Betsy, and Meg. Their father, Harold Goodman, made a fortune from his Houston-based air-conditioning company, Goodman Manufacturing. Before he died, Harold Goodman made sure his wealth would benefit his children for the rest of their lives.

The family feud involved the trust fund Harold set up for Greg Goodman's four children.

John was the trustee in charge of that money, and Greg, a horse breeder and polo patron in Kentucky, wasn't happy about it.

In 1998, Greg filed suit alleging that he and his brother had a "hostile" relationship. "When Greg's children have sent gifts to John or Meg's children, they have been sent back," it said. "John has not spoken to Greg's children in three years."

Greg went on to insult his brother, saying that John was not "qualified" to oversee the trust fund. "He never finished college and pursues no serious profession," the suit alleged. Greg wanted John to step aside as overseer of the inheritance.

John Goodman's lawyers responded that Greg was being obstinate. Despite his siblings' attempts to give Greg's kids a fair share of the family's wealth, Greg "began an unwarranted campaign of harassment of his siblings, highlighted by numerous, unjustified threats of litigation," the lawyers wrote.

In the end, the siblings finally reached a settlement. In 2000, John Goodman agreed to step down as trustee of the inheritance and was replaced by an independent company.

Clearly, John Goodman and his brother were not pals. (Greg Goodman didn't respond to requests for comment, and neither did John's lawyer, Roy Black).

But given John's current predicament -- a drunken night and a rash decision to get behind the wheel --  should any of Greg's allegations of irresponsibility be believed?

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Lisa Rab
Contact: Lisa Rab