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Nonprofit Sues Davidson, N.C. Estate for Payment of $5 Million Pledge

Nonprofit Sues Davidson, N.C. Estate for Payment of $5 Million Pledge

Pistons owner Bill Davidson has died at the age of 86. (Photo Courtesy of Yellowbrix)

By Chad Halcom

January 21, 2010

A nonprofit foundation to support Jewish educational programs seeks nearly $5 million from the estate of Bill Davidson, the late founder of Guardian Industries Corp. and Detroit Pistons owner, in a lawsuit at Oakland County Probate Court.

New York-based Areivim Philanthropic Group Inc., founded and chaired by philanthropist and past hedge fund operator Michael Steinhardt, has filed a civil action against Jonathan Aaron and Eric Garber, co-representatives of the estate. The foundation seeks $4.8 million on a $5 million pledge Davidson allegedly made to the cause in 2006.

Aaron and Garber filed their response earlier this week, denying that Davidson made provisions in his estate for a charitable contribution to Areivim, which sought $5 million apiece from its founding members.

They contend Davidson supported the foundation in principle and attended at least one organizational meeting in 2006, but that the foundation “omits from the allegations…that donors’ pledges would not be final until 20 families joined the fund.”

Davidson died March 13.

Areivim was chartered as a nonprofit for “making grants to support Jewish educational and charitable organizations and programs, and (for) raising public awareness about Jewish educational and philanthropic initiatives,” according to records in Guidestar, a nonprofit that operates an online database of nonprofit records.

The foundation said Davidson had made $200,000 in contributions toward his initial $5 million pledge, and had made separate payments totaling $100,000 toward the fund’s operating costs. Aaron and Garber deny that Davidson made contributions.

Attorneys Henry Baskin of The Baskin Law Firm P.C. and David Mendelson of the Law Offices of David Mendelson P.C., both of Birmingham, represent Areivim. Member-shareholders Eric Carver and Samuel Damren of Detroit-based Dykema Gossett P.L.L.C. and Andrew Kolozsvary are defending the representatives of Davidson’s estate.

No date is set for the case to be heard in court, according to a statement Tuesday from Baskin.

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