Attorneys for the widow of Bud Yorkin, producer of such television series as “All in the Family,” “Good Times” and “Maude,” say a verbally abusive process server tried and failed to serve a lawsuit brought by the producer’s oldest daughter that alleges elder abuse by her stepmother.
Nicole Yorkin alleges in a lawsuit filed July 5 in Los Angeles Superior Court that Cynthia Sikes Yorkin convinced her husband before he died to amend the family trust and deprive the plaintiff of a beloved painting. Cynthia Yorkin, 62, played Dr. Annie Cavanero on the “St. Elsewhere” television series.
But in court papers filed last Friday, lawyers for Cynthia Yorkin allege Nicole Yorkin’s court papers falsely state that her stepmother was personally served with her complaint and a summons. The defense lawyers state that a process server went to the defendant’s Los Angeles home on July 11 and did not encounter Cynthia Yorkin, but instead the actress’ assistant, Chelsey Thomas.
In a sworn statement, Thomas says her boss had been out of the country since June 24. She says she was working in her office in the home when a man at the front gate rang the bell and said he had a package for Cynthia Yorkin.
“As I wasn’t expecting any packages, I cautiously cracked the door to see what this man was doing,” Thomas says. “Mrs. Yorkin is a celebrity and is sometimes the target of unwanted attention at inappropriate times.”
Thomas says she told the man that Cynthia Yorkin was not present and that she was not authorized to accept documents on her behalf.
The man responded, “I don’t really care” and said “you have been served by Nicole Yorkin,” Thomas says. “As I closed the door, he threw the papers at the door, causing them to fly everywhere,” according to Thomas.
The defense attorneys’ court papers include copies of photos taken of the papers scattered about the grounds.
Thomas says she gathered the documents, told the man again that she could not accept papers on her boss’ behalf and left the papers on his car.
“He then started getting very upset and aggressive towards me,” Thomas says. “He grabbed the papers and threw them in the bushes in a very angry and aggressive manner.”
Thomas further says she was “scared by how angry he had become” and closed the front gate.
“The process server continued with his aggressive behavior and yelling vulgarities at me,” Thomas says.
She says she told the man she was recording what happened to show the police, but that he “then got in his car and sped off.”
A hearing on the defense motion to quash service is scheduled Nov. 30 before Judge Robert Hess.
Bud Yorkin, a former partner of producer Norman Lear, died in August 2015 at age 89 while suffering from dementia, according to court papers filed by Nicole Yorkin, who was co-executive producer of the AMC/Netflix drama “The Killing.”
Nicole Yorkin and her brother, David, were born during their father’s marriage to his first wife, women’s rights advocate Peg Yorkin.
Their father remarried in 1989 and had two other children with their stepmother.
Bud Yorkin, an avid art collector, told Nicole and David in 1985 that he wanted to leave them a painting of their choosing when he died, the suit states.
Nicole Yorkin says she chose a Hans Hofmann painting dubbed “Landscape.”
Bud Yorkin began developing dementia in 2008 and his condition deteriorated to the point that he was unable to give a speech he prepared three years later noting his son David’s 50th birthday, the suit states. He was placed into a professional care facility in 2013 and remained there until his death.
The producer amended the family trust numerous times after establishing it in 1987, but it was the 15th amendment in January 2012 that deleted a paragraph distributing the Hofmann painting to his eldest daughter, her suit states. By the trust’s remaining terms, her stepmother received the painting instead, according to the suit.
The plaintiff alleges Cynthia Yorkin convinced her husband to amend the trust and grant her the Hofmann painting at a time when his mental capacity had deteriorated.