In a case that sounds like a bizarre arc from an obscure comic book plotline, Marvel Entertainment Chairman Isaac Perlmutter has received the go-ahead to pursue a claim that he and his wife’s DNA was secretly collected during a deposition. The case could establish a massive legal precedent, as no ruling has ever been made to determine if a person’s genetic material can be considered personal property.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Perlmutter’s claim asserts that Toronto businessman and Florida neighbor Harold Peerenboom, founder of the executive search firm Mandrake Management, arranged for the DNA collection to take place at a 2013 deposition, the result of a defamation suit filed by Peerenboom. Peerenbloom claims Perlmutter started a hate-mail campaign saying he was an anti-Semite and a sex offender. Peerenboom sued Perlmutter for defamation, eventually forcing the reclusive CEO to attend a deposition.
During the deposition, Peerenboom and his former attorney arranged for Speckin Forensic Laboratories to collect DNA evidence using items Perlmutter left behind. The laboratory was then able to match the DNA from the collected items to evidence found on one of the envelopes, seemingly implicating Perlmutter’s wife Laura. Florida is one of the few states that forbids the unauthorized harvesting and testing of an individual’s genetic material.
The billionaires’ dispute began in 2010 when the two Florida residents, who live in the same condominium complex, Sloan’s Curve, found each other at odds over a tennis court. At the time, Peerenboom became frustrated the Sloan’s Curve tennis facility had been operated by one woman, Karen Donnelly, for more than 10 years. Peerenboom wanted the tennis court’s contract placed up for competitive bidding. Donnelly eventually sued Peerenboom for defamation, a lawsuit Peerenboom claims was funded by Perlmutter, a friend of the plaintiff. The hate mail directed at Peerenboom began to appear the following year and intensified as time went on.
The case, which inches closer to a public trial and establishing widespread legal ramifications, may receive even greater attention due to the political connections of both parties. A longtime friend of President Donald Trump, Perlmutter appears poised to serve in the new administration as a “key adviser” on veterans’ affairs. Meanwhile, Peerenboom is being represented by Marc Kasowitz, who, according to The Wall Street Journal, is one of President Trump’s go-to men for advice on hard-fought legal battles.
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