Most of a multi-million dollar palimony suit filed against the late Alfred Bloomingdale and his widow was dismissed today by Judge Christian E. Markey Jr. who ruled that the relationship between the late Bloomingdale and Vicki Morgan was "no more than that of a wealthy, older paramour and a young, well-paid mistress."
Markey dismissed the portions of Morgan's suit in which she claimed that Bloomingdale had made an oral contract to give her lifetime support, based on her services to him as a confidant and companion. He also struck down her $5 million claim against Bloomingdale's widow, Betsy, who, Morgan alleged, broke the contract between her husband and his mistress by refusing to sign Morgan's $100,000 monthly support checks.
The victory for the Bloomingdales was not complete however. The summary judgement did not extend to the written contract between Bloomingdale and Morgan, in which he promised her $10,000 a month for two years and half of his interest in the ShowBiz Pizza Place restaurants. Michael Dave, who has represented Morgan since she dismissed famed palimony lawyer Marvin Mitchelson, said this morning that no decision has been made as to when or whether Morgan will press that portion of her suit.
Hillel Chodos, lawyer for the Bloomingdale estate, has steadfastly refused to discuss the case, and neither he nor Betsy Bloomingdale were available for comment. Alfred Bloomingdale, who died of cancer at age 66 on Aug. 20, was an heir to the department store fortune. His wife is often described as Nancy Reagan's best friend. In his will, dated two weeks after Morgan's suit was filed, Bloomingdale left his estate to his wife, his three children and four grandchildren.
Markey upheld Chodos' contention that the Morgan-Bloomingdale case was based on sexual services. (Earlier this month, the defendant's lawyer submitted to the court written arguments in which he asserted that any agreement between the two would be an illegal "contract for prostitution.") "The relationship was adulterous, immoral and bordered on the illegal at its inception, and was founded on meretricious sexual services," Markey wrote.
The 30-year-old Beverly Hills woman who says she became Bloomingdale's mistress when she was 17 contended that she was both a business partner and a source of emotional support for him. In papers filed with the court in mid-September, she said she had advised him on his real estate holdings and had listened to his complaints about his wife, who, in her words, "was too occupied with her social life, her shopping and her lunches with designers and with lady friends to give him the support he needed."
And on Friday, Dave submitted to the court a declaration from Sally Talbert, a friend of Morgan's, who said that the relationship between Bloomingdale and his mistress was "that of father and daughter."
But Morgan acknowledged that sex had a role in the affair. In a deposition made public yesterday, she described his alleged "Marquis de Sade" complex, saying that Bloomingdale had a penchant for binding and beating nude women, and for watching them crawl on the floor. Morgan also told the court that she allowed Bloomingdale to beat and to spank her during the first four years of their 12-year relationship, but left him to marry her second husband in 1975. After that brief marriage ended, she said, she began to provide "therapy" for Bloomingdale by refusing to engage in sado-masochistic sex and by persuading him to visit a psychiatrist.
"Alfred was two people. He was Jekyll and Hyde and in that personality of his, which is the sexual part, Alfred was strange. I don't mean a fantasy, I mean a sickness, " the one-time model said in her sworn deposition.
Mitchelson, who won the 1976 Marvin v. Marvin suit in which unmarried couples who live together were given the right to make property and support contracts, had hoped that the Morgan case would help establish "mistress' rights" for women who do not live with their lovers. He said today that, by throwing out Morgan's primary claim against Bloomingdale, Markey had "tried to set the clock back 6 years -- when, prior to the Marvin decision, unmarried couples who live together were prevented from enforcing their contracts on the grounds that their relationship was 'meretricious and immoral.' "
Mitchelson added that he hopes his former client will appeal the decision: "It will be up to the appellate court to decide whether unmarried women who happen to be mistresses have the right to make these contracts," he said.