SANTA MONICA (CNS) - The oldest son of a late Texas real estate mogul is suing a Los Angeles woman who he says was a mistress of his father, alleging she directed her attorney to send him an intimidating letter demanding money from him and his father's estate.
Bradford A. Phillips, the son of Gene Erlo Phillips, brought the suit Thursday in Santa Monica Superior Court against Marsana De Monserat, alleging extortion and both intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress. He seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.
An attorney for De Monserat could not be immediately reached.
Gene Phillips started from humble beginnings in South Carolina and grew his Dallas, Texas-based real estate empire into one worth more than $3.5 billion, the suit states.
Prior to his 2019 death at age 82, Phillips was the adviser to the management company that ran three publicly traded real estate investment companies. He also was affiliated with many privately held entities affiliated with his estate and some of the companies made loans and provided business opportunities and cash to De Monserat when he was alive, the suit states.
Bradford Phillips, the executor of his father's estate, is also CEO and president of Liberty Bankers Life Insurance Co. and the American Benefit Life Insurance Co., both of which have been very successful, the suit states.
After his father died, Bradford Phillips assumed control of his father's business empire. He conducted an independent assessment and determined that aside from being his mistress, De Monserat ``had nothing else to offer from a business perspective,'' the suit states.
Bradford Phillips stopped the ``money flow'' to De Monserat in August of 2019 and began looking for ways to extricate her from her dealings with his father's businesses, the suit states. He met with De Monserat in early 2020 to discuss her dealings with the estate and his father's companies, but their discussions were unfruitful and De Monserat hired a lawyer to speak with him, the suit states.
In February 2020, De Monserat's lawyer sent the plaintiff a letter threatening action against him individually and as the estate's executor and demanded money from him and the estate, the suit states. The lawyer also accused the plaintiff of misappropriating $2.6 million from a HUD-related project and threatened to involve HUD in the dispute, according to the suit.
The letter left the plaintiff in fear of criminal allegations being brought against him, the estate and his family, all of which caused him significant emotional distress, the suit states.
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