The bitter feud between the late Casey Kasem’s older children and their stepmother may be headed in a more positive direction as an attorney for the widow said Monday he is hopeful the two sides can mediate a resolution of their differences.
Lawyer Gary Ruttenberg told Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Clifford Klein that he is Kasem widow Jean Kasem’s new counsel and he wants to see if the parties can reach a “global” settlement of all issues, including the Kasem children’s wrongful death suit against their stepmother.
The news was welcome to Troy Martin, the attorney for Kasem’s daughter, Kerri Kasem, who has long been at odds with her stepmother concerning the care of her father before he died.
“It’s a breath of fresh air, I’ve known Mr. Ruttenberg for many years, I’ll hold out hope and I’ll believe it when I see it,” Martin told the judge.
Martin declined further comment outside the courtroom.
Jean Kasem previously filed a petition asking for a greater say in the management of the radio legend’s estate. That case is pending before Klein.
In Santa Monica Superior Court, Kerri, Julie and Michael Kasem and their uncle, Mouner, are plaintiffs in the wrongful death suit against Jean Kasem, with whom they fought over visitation with the deejay before he died. The suit also names their stepsister, Liberty Kasem, as a defendant. Trial is scheduled in June.
Before her father’s June 2014 death at age 82 from a form of dementia and a severe bedsore, Kerri Kasem was given temporary conservatorship powers over her dad and had control of his medical care. That expired upon his death, but she was later appointed special administrator of his estate.
After his death, his widow transported her husband’s body to Norway, where he was buried in an unmarked grave despite his wishes to be buried at a cemetery in Los Angeles, the wrongful death suit alleges.
In 2017, Jean Kasem filed a lawsuit in federal court in Washington state, alleging that her stepchildren conspired to seize control of their father through a “`homicidal guardianship scam.” The suit alleges that the three children, Julie’s husband and Kerri Kasem’s lawyer, Troy Martin, “chemically restrained” Casey Kasem and then caused his death so they could pursue his and Jean Kasem’s financial assets. The lawsuit was later dismissed.
The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, spurred by allegations made by Jean Kasem’s stepchildren regarding her care of their father, conducted an investigation, but declined in May 2015 to file criminal charges against the onetime actress, who played the character of Loretta Tortelli on the NBC series “Cheers.”
Casey Kasem began his “American Top 40” radio show in July 1970, signing off each time with the message, “And don’t forget: keep your feet on the ground, and keep reaching for the stars.”
Kerri, Julie and Michael Kasem were born during their father’s 1972-79 marriage to Linda Myers.