I know, I got you with the headline, right? Rest assured, I’m not making it up, but it’s a less salacious story than you might imagine. Florida polo club founder John Goodman, 48, made the strange decision to adopt his 42-year-old girlfriend back in October 2011… because he was afraid of losing his money in the drunk driving trial in which he’s currently embroiled.
You’re really not going to like Goodman in a second: In February 2010, he ran a stop sign and crashed into the car of Scott Patrick Wilson, a kid home from college visiting his parents. It was a hit-and-run; Goodman didn’t even alert the police or an ambulance. And his blood alcohol level was twice the legal limit.
Goodman’s civil and criminal trials start up in March; he could face 30 years if convicted. He also stands to lose the trust funds he set up for his kids, which is why he formally adopted his girlfriend of three years, Heather Laurso Hutchens. Neither of his children are 35, which is the youngest they’d be able to access their money; because Hutchens is 42, she’s entitled to a third of the fund.
Interestingly, it’s only now that Goodman made this proactive step, that the parents of Wilson believe that Goodman’s money should be included in possible damages. “Plaintiffs view the adoption of Ms. Hutchins as a ‘game-changer’ and as grounds to now include the assets of the children’s trust, at least in some fashion, in the punitive damages calculation,” Judge Glenn Kelley wrote.
They also take exception with him adopting his girlfriend as opposed to a child in need. It seems they believe that Goodman would continue to control at least a third of the money — which hit $100 million in 1998 and has been increasing for the past 14 years — rather than providing for his biological children.
Plus, it’s just plain skeevy. If Goodman gets off, would they reverse the adoption? Judge Kelley added that with Goodman’s decision, the case’s many twists now “border on the surreal and take the Court into a legal twilight zone.” You can say that again.