The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida on December 4, 1997 · Page 12
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The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida · Page 12

West Palm Beach, Florida
Issue Date:
Thursday, December 4, 1997
Page 12
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THE PALM BEACH POST THURSDAY, DECEMBER 4, 1997 13A Corporate wife rejected early settlement offer of $11 million lations representative. The cham-i 1 - r T..J T' . . . , LAati' her husband brought home, and that while she ran the household and raised the Wendts' two daughters, she also worked side by side with her husband as an adviser, business hostess, traveling partner and representative to various charitable and community groups. Gary Wendt denied his wife contributed to his success, saying in court that she had no interest in business and she wasn't interested in his problems, leaving him very lonely in the marriage. Mrs. Wendt countered that she organized lavish business dinners at their posh home in the New York City suburb of Stamford, including a 1995 bash where Marvin Hamlisch played piano for about 100 guests. Each Wendt hired a public re marriage for 32 years. This isn't fair.' " A 'representative for Gary Wendt said he was in a helicopter en route to deliver a speech to a business group in New Jersey when Judge Kevin Tierney handed down his 465-page decision. Tierney released only 31 pages of the order because he said he didn't have enough support staff to type the rest by Wednesday's deadline. Gary Wendt said later in a phone interview that the judge's decision was fair. "I offered her half of what we had when we split up, and the court pretty well followed that down the line," he told The Associated Press. Lorna Wendt did not get everything she wanted. In addition to half of everything accumulated by the Wendts during their marriage, she also had sought half of the stock options, bonuses and unvested pension benefits that Gary Wendt will receive when he retires from GE in 10 years. Her attorneys said she will essentially get that in a tax-free payment of $2 million ordered by the judge, as well as the payoff of the $1 million mortgage on the Stamford house by her former husband. This is one of the few divorce cases of a wealthy couple that has actually gone to trial. Most of the super-rich settle outside of court In the 18-day trial one year ago, Lorna Wendt testified that her contributions to the marriage were as valuable as the paycheck divorce. Often the bulk of the multimillion-dollar pay packages awarded to top executives these days are in the form of such deferred compensation. Lorna Wendt, 54, who appeared in court, said in a telephone interview late Wednesday that she is happy with the decision. "It appears that the judge has indeed determined that marriage is an equal partnership," she said. She rejected an offer of an $11 million settlement early on, and said Wednesday she did not take her now-ex-husband to court for money but for the principle. "The press claims this is a case about a corporate wife. It's really about how one person in a marriage treats the other," she said. "I stood up and said, 'I've been in this Ders OI JUUge liciiicy nave uctu. inundated with calls from the me-j dia for months. Mrs. Wendt has started www.equalityinmarriage.j com, a Web site named for the! Foundation for Equality in Mar-! riage that she is starting with some of her assets. ' When they married just after, both graduated from the Universi-! ty of Wisconsin, the Wendts had; $2,500 between them, according to Lorna Wendt's representative. Lorna Wendt taught school while her husband attended Harvard Business School and later gave up teaching to become a full-time wife and mother. The Associated Press contributed to this story. m,L.UUr....W.n.. l, Ml ,., I,. I-,.,.. .1,. : ; ' J tir x 1 7f j fi ( hi DIVORCE From 1A latitude on what they award. Even in the half-dozen or so states that have community property laws, the property is not always divided equally, though Lorna Wendt would have had a better shot at half in those states. "There's ' been a discussion among lawyers in recent years that judges tend to award the economically dependent spouse of a very wealthy couple a small percentage of the total assets," said Ain. ; The concept is known as the "enough-is-enough" standard because judges think a spouse, usually the woman, who is getting millions in a divorce settlement has more than enough to maintain her lifestyle, so why should she get half? "Judges in other states will look at this closely," he said. Gary Wendt, 55, had argued that he did offer his ex-wife half of his estate, although he did not include the value of certain future compensation because he would not collect the cash until after his One victim's family donated her organs SHOOTING From 1A Carneal, who has confessed, shot the students with a .22-caliber semiautomatic pistol after they had just finished a prayer meeting. But Carneal also had with him four other guns two shotguns and two .22-caliber rifles hidden in a blanket wrapped with duct tape. He had told a suspicious teacher that the bundle was part of a science project. Why would the boy have smuggled so many guns into school, unless he expected to share them with an accomplice, or accomplices, the sheriff wondered. "I don't believe this boy planned this out by himself," Augustus said. "I believe there's someone else out there we need to talk to. I believe it's another student." But when pressed as to what leads the investigators were following, the sheriff and others said they had nothing solid, beyond hunches. Carneal has been charged with murder, attempted murder and burglary. He stole the guns used in the attack from a neighbor. People here still searched their minds and memories for a motive, an answer, to why the boy opened fire on people he had no obvious reason to harm. ; Many questions about the shooting lingered. A search of Car-neal's room found no answers, either. He was what he appeared to be: an unexceptional student who had friends, dressed like everyone else, listened to the same music and played in the school band. He had been kidded by other students because he was a little small, but that was apparently nothing beyond the usual banter of teenagers. ' As Benjamin Strong led the prayer circle at the school Wednesday, as he did Monday morning, there was at least one thing to be grateful for. The lungs of one girl killed in the attack, Nicole Hadley, 14, were donated to a 42-year-old man, Thomas Hereford, who now has a new chance at life. Hereford, , of Jeffersonville, Ind., has severe emphysema and was not expected to live much longer, family members said. He ' received the girl's lungs and was in serious but stable condition Wednesday afternoon at Jewish Hospital in Louisville. A Kentucky man, whose family asked that his name not be released, received Nicole's heart. Her pancreas, liver and kidneys were to be used outside the Louisville area. Services for Nicole and Kayce Steger, 15, and Jessica James, 17, will be held Friday. Two of the five injured students remained hospitalized Wednesday in satisfactory and stable condition. B The Associated Press contributed to this story. You Can Wrap Up The Largest Coverage Area In The Southeast This Season. . Just Be SureTo Buy Plenty Of Paper. 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