One of Washington’s most enduring family feuds ignited again — and again — in federal court last week.
Karen Feld — daughter of late circus mogul Irvin Feld — shrieked at her brother’s lawyer and stormed from the courtroom where she is suing him for having her thrown out of their aunt’s 2007 memorial service. Later, Kenneth Feld burst into tears on the witness stand. Things got so hot the judge posted a security guard in the room.
The siblings have been at odds for decades, since their father’s will cut her out of the family business in the ’80s, leaving Kenneth at the helm of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. A reunion at their Aunt Shirley’s shiva went badly: She claims she was injured when her brother had guards remove her; he’s countersuing for trespass, saying she disrupted the event with a foul-mouthed tirade.
According to the Associated Press, Karen Feld took offense Tuesday after the defense attorney mistakenly called her “Mrs. Feld.”
“You know my name by now!” she shouted at lawyer Matthew Kirtland as she fled the room. Kirtland later complained to Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle that the former gossip columnist hurled nasty names at him and the defendants during a recess. The judge, meanwhile, rebuked Karen after she testified that she discovered her late father in bed with her ex-fiance — not relevant to the case, Huvelle said.
She wasn’t there to see her brother break down on the stand the next day — she had stormed out again after another errant “Mrs. Feld” reference. “This definitely has been the most dramatic trial I’ve seen in the courthouse,” the AP’s Nedra Pickler told us. “It’s unusual for a family feud like this to get all the way to trial.” Closing arguments are expected on Monday.
Read earlier: Kenneth and Karen Feld’s sibling rivalry is headed to court, again, 3/27/09