Baba Fide: New York Court Rules Mother Owes Son $5000 For Undelivered Bar Mitzvah Gift From Grandmother

316968_10150404626159254_1572956963_nNew York has a rather bizarre case this week where Jordan Zeidman, 20, sued his own mother, Shirley Zeidman, 54, to recover $5,000 that his grandmother gave him as a bar mitzvah gift. Shirley Zeidman has now been found liable for conversion and unjust enrichment. It might not have been a bona fide but it was a baba fide transaction according to the court. The case is Zeidman v. Zeidman, CV-011924-14.


Jordan Zeidman’s mother and father had divorced in 1998 in what was a bitter break up. While their separation agreement requires both parents to contribute pro rata to their son’s college fund, Shirley Zeidman has made her contributions. He moved out of her home soon after his bar mitzvah due to their differences and they have (as you might have gathered) been estranged ever since.

Mr. Zeidman, now a Long Island student, says that his “Baba” — maternal grandmother Rachel Steinfeld — wanted him to have the money after his 2007 bar mitzvah. What is particularly interesting is that he says that Baba crashed his party with her daughter — Jordan’s mom. His mother had broken up with his father in a bitter divorce and was excluded from the bar mitzvah. Steinfeld reportedly told him about the gift in the synagogue, saying “I have $5,000 for you. Just like I gave to your brother and sister . . . I’m going to give it to your mom to hold for you.”

His mother however says that Baba never gave her the money. What is fascinating about the case is the key piece of evidence: a hand written note on a bank statement. Jordan Zeidman produced a bank document with statement of deposits into his college fund containing a handwritten note stating: “I owe Jordan $190.00 + $5,000 from Baba.”

However “Baba” Seinfeld said that neither gave $5,000 to Jordan Zeidman directly, nor gave it to his mother to hold for him. She did give $5,000 gifts to Jordan Zeidman’s brother and sister for their bar and bat mitzvahs. While Shirley Zeidman admitted that the handwriting might be hers, she said that she never got the money from her mother.

However, Nassau District Court Judge Scott Fairgrieve ruled that Shirley Zeidman is liable for both conversion and unjust enrichment for failing to transfer the gift to her son. Citing Gruen v. Gruen, 68 N.Y.2d 48, 505 N.Y.S.2d 849 (1986), he found that the son showed an intent to give an inter vivos gift in the form of an irrevocable transfer of ownership, an actual delivery of the property and an acceptance of the gift by the donee. That is surprising given the denial of the grandmother that she ever did give the money to the mother. Yet, the note would suggest that the money was given or guaranteed.

There is another interesting aspect of the case. Despite a three-year statute of limitation for conversion claims and a six-year limit for unjust enrichment claims, the statutes of limitation were extended because Jordan Zeidman was a minor when his mother deprived him of the gift.

An appeal will be taken by the mother in Zeidman v. Zeidman. Mazel tov to all parties.

Source: New York Law Journal

20 thoughts on “Baba Fide: New York Court Rules Mother Owes Son $5000 For Undelivered Bar Mitzvah Gift From Grandmother”

  1. This case highlights antisemtism and in the case of bam bam ignorance. You can tell that this failing lawyer just needs to argue even when condemning a family that suffered. He still has to be right even without any facts.

  2. I can see why you, as Father of Year, who allowed your son to be continually abused with repeated beatings, would wish to take your angst out on any random person. It is much easier to do than looking into the mirror and realizing that you failed miserably, as a father and as a human being, to protect your child from that so-called abuse. Either your son was forced to openly praise and extol a reported abuser or he and you have perpetuated a lie regarding that abuse–either way, you should seek help. You are the type of client lawyers refer to as toxic–no wonder that lawyers refuse to take your cases and run in the opposite direction. No amount of money compensates for having to deal with loons.

  3. @3:19 PM

    AND I HAVE THE DVD OF THE CANDLELIGHTING CEREMONY SHOWING JORDAN RECITING POEMS TO EACH OF THEM HONORING THEIR PRESENCE.

    You mean to say that your poor, abused son–who suffered from repeated beatings and abuse at the hands of a psychotic and insane mother–invited her to this function and read poems to her–aloud–in which he honored her presence?

    Thanks, I needed a chuckle today. Funny and sick at the same time.

  4. Andrew

    If you are, indeed, the dysfunctional cog in the wheel of this disastrous of a family, where were you, Mr. Father of the Year, when your purported son was suffering all of this alleged horrific abuse at the hands of his mother? Where were you? Missing in action? Why did you fail to protect him? Multiple child protective reports? Multiple? You will have to live with that failure, not me. Call me what you wish, but an absent father, who allows his child to be repeatedly abused in the form of BEATINGS–PLURAL–is no one to judge anyone. I suggest intense therapy, on your part, so that you can learn to live with the massive failure, on your part, to behave as a father and protect your child from harm.

  5. Now you can apologize for your infantile assumptions and misguided comments. I will forgive your ignorance in a few weeks. Al chat

  6. One last note. They both were invited. And I have the dvd of the candle lighting ceremony showing Jordan reading poems to each of them honoring their presence. Stay tuned. Lifetime networks will tell the true story

  7. @ bam bam

    Been gone all day getting stuff from the ‘big city’. But not as I remember. She had spent and frittered it all away over the years. There were a few assets, like cars and jewelry but not enough to actually care for the boy. This was in the1980’s. I suppose someone could have sued her for breach but who and to what purpose? She had nothing left and sending her to jail, while satisfying would not solve anything for the young boy.

    I’ve seen bad behavior on the part of even professional trustees, so there is no guarantee there either!. There was recently an investment client of mine who was in his 80’s and had a trust where his lawyer, who drew up the trust, was the successor trustee and executor of his estate according to the other legal documents, will etc. The old guy didn’t trust his only remaining heir, a daughter but did have some nieces and nephews that he wanted to inherit. I had a copy of his trust, as his investment account was titled that way and my firm required some of those particulars to be documented and on file. My client, in addition to the investment portfolio we had going, was very big on buying gold. Gold coins. Gold bars and had an extensive collection of collectible guns.

    Strangely enough (that was sarcasm) when he died, his attorney and the notary who worked with him, IMMEDIATELY, began to control the account as was his legal right as successor trustee according to the documents which HE had drawn up. He later removed the assets from my control, which again ….his right. Probably because he knew I was watching what he was doing. He did NOT follow the rest of the instructions and I would bet my life that the nieces and nephews, if they got anything, only got a pittance. The lawyer also took his sweet time in settling the estate, which I knew took much longer than necessary because the heirs would call me for months and months later to complain or ask what was going on……. and I was only able to tell them that they funds were no longer under my supervision and they would need to contact the successor trustee.

    Amazingly enough (also sarcasm) when the household contents were inventoried (my client died in his home and wasn’t discovered for some time) there were just a few gold coins and only a couple of guns. I know for a fact that he had much more gold than was there because I kept counseling him to not buy so much hard assets in gold or to hold them in a safe deposit box and NOT at his house. Guess who did the inventorying of the contents?

    The lawyer was known for taking substantial fees from the estates and stretching out the process so he could pad his income…estates that he was conveniently appointed to administer by his trusting, dead, clients. This was the most egregious abuse that I had ever seen. When he moved out of town shortly after, I was not in the least sad to see him go.

    Jaded view. Yup.

  8. DBQ @ 10:24 am

    In your example, the mother was named as the trustee, and with that title comes a fiduciary duty on her part. There were no remedies available to the injured son with regard to an obvious disregard for those duties and blatant misconduct?

  9. some third-string assistant gofer wrote, “in many states, any personal injury lawsuit automatically has a guardian ad litem appointed to make sure the kid is protected from bad parents.”

    yeahrightsure. why don’t you name three or four states (which are much less than “many”), and provide citations to the appropriate statutes, where *any* personal injury lawsuit *automatically* mandates a guardian ad litem to protect infants from bad parents?

  10. DBQ:

    That’s really sad. It’s true that too many people have stories about family turning on each other over money.

  11. I’m GOING to give it to your mom to hold for you. Notice, not I DID give it to your mom to hold for you. The words GOING TO are crucial here. The statement clearly indicates that the action was to occur some time in the future and had not already transpired. Given the fact that this jerk claims that his mother and maternal grandmother both CRASHED his bar mitzvah party–meaning that neither had been invited to this once in a lifetime and joyous event–it is not so unbelievable that Baba subsequently had a change of heart over the acrimonious behavior surrounding said party and decided to never part with a monetary gift for her ungrateful grandson. He did not, after all, behave like the other grandchildren who, ultimately, did receive gifts. Given the grandmother’s testimony–where she claimed to have never parted with the money–coupled with the dysfunctional nature of the family, it is very conceivable that the transfer for the grandson never occurred.

  12. DBQ, in many states, any personal injury lawsuit automatically has a guardian ad litem appointed to make sure the kid is protected from bad parents.

  13. In my years in the financial industry (about 40 all together) I have seen this scenario over and over. The worst case was a young man who was injured by a drunk driver when the youngster was about 12. He was physically, not mentally, disabled for life and was awarded a substantial amount of money for his care and welfare. Unfortunately, instead of placing the funds in a trust account with a third party vetted and bonded trustee, the mother was made trustee……..When he turned 18 and wanted to be on his own it was discovered that not only had his mother not really taken the care of him that she should, she had spent all the money on herself. There was nothing to sue for and he proceeded to live on welfare and SSI.

    Greedy family members who steal their children’s identities and run up debt. Greedy family members who steal the children’s college funds. Greedy family who pounce like vultures on the elderly members and steal their money leaving them destitute in their old age. Over and over and over I have seen these things.

    Is it any wonder I have a somewhat jaded outlook on the quality of character of the human race?

  14. I knew a girl in college whose parents divorced when she was 8. Although her father was a wealthy contractor, he never paid child support, and she was raised on welfare. After she was out of the home, her mother opened a small travel agency and became self-supporting, and was also assisting the girl with college expenses. But then the state went after the mother, suing her to recover 10 years of welfare payments, which wiped out her small business. So the girl then sued her father, recovering 10 years of child support that he had never paid. Ugly family dynamics these days….

  15. Actually it took him about four years and an appeal to get his money away from his mother.

  16. I had a friend in grade and high school who had to sue his mother to get his ‘fortune’ away from his mother. It is all very messy, family wise.

  17. Statements made at a bar mitzva should be excluded from evidence at court due to the evidence rule against perpetuities.

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