Lawyers say doorman not entitled to late resident’s estate


A Manhattan doorman who claims a late resident promised to leave him a third of his estate has no legal right to the inheritance — because the alleged deal was made verbally, lawyers for the estate say.

Doorman Jose Rafael Padilla filed suit in September against the estate of long-time 14 Sutton Place resident James Clayton Larmett, alleging that Larmett told Padilla he intended to leave him a third of his estate for helping him into his old age, the court papers alleged.

Larmett, 69, died earlier this year and his will — written in 2016 — revealed that he left his fortune to three animal charities, Larmett’s estate lawyer Richard J. Miller told The Post in September, noting that Larmett didn’t have any children and his wife was no longer alive.

Now the estate is asking a judge to toss out Padilla’s case, claiming that the law doesn’t honor oral promises that haven’t been laid out in writing or in a will, according to papers filed Friday in the Manhattan Supreme Court case.

It’s unclear how much Larmett’s estate is worth.

“It is black letter law that there can be no claim for a testamentary bequest based on an alleged oral promise and a bequest must be set forth in a decedent’s will or other legally sufficient writing,” the estate lawyers wrote in the filing.

“This court should dismiss the complaint because there is no legally viable claim for an oral bequest,” the papers continued.

If the judge doesn’t dismiss the suit outright, the estate is asking for the case to be transferred over to surrogate’s court, where Padilla’s request for the alleged inheritance was already rejected by the estate in September.

Miller told The Post Tuesday: “It’s our position that Mr. Padilla has no viable claim for an oral bequest. You can’t change a will by making a claim. The will speaks for itself.”

He reiterated that Larmett’s estate was split between three charities.

A sidewalk shot of 14 Sutton Place's entrance.
Padilla first met Larmett over two decades ago, when he helped him and his late wife move into their apartment at 14 Sutton Place.
William Farrington

Miller’s partner Hirsh Cogan added that “we are by no means conceding that there was an oral bequest. [But] even if it is true, there is still no legal basis.”

In his suit, Padilla claimed that he’d known Larmett and his wife, Linda, ever since he helped them move into the Midtown East building 28 years ago.

The 62-year-old porter said he “became close” with the couple, even helping to take care of their pets, “which had been the prime object of [Larmett’s] affection,” the suit said.

And before Linda’s 2016 death, Padilla claims, he promised her that he’d take care of her husband as she wished him to.

Larmett first expressed his wish to leave Padilla money on May 1, 2020, “in consideration for all the help I had given him over the past twenty-eight years,” the suit claimed. Then the ailing man reiterated his intent and upped the amount from a fourth to a third on Jan. 15 — promising to update his will, Padilla alleged.

It is unclear exactly how much money Padilla claims Larmett promised him.

Padilla’s lawyer did not immediately return a request for comment.

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