The Trial Between Irvine Co., Heir

Your June 15 edition contained an article entitled “Trial Pitting Irvine Co., Heir Enters Its Final Two Days.” Your reporter did not include all of the facts. It had been reported that the Irvine Co. was prepared to pay about $76 million in interest on top of a $114-million offer to Joan Irvine Smith. Assuming this is accurate, the offer is $190 million, the request $330 million, a difference of $140 million.

I understand this is all about money and how much compensation Smith and her mother, Athalie Clark, should receive for her 11% of ownership in the Irvine Co. For what it’s worth, I have a suggestion to resolve the impasse. The difference between request and offer is $140 million. I propose that Smith accept the $190 million offer and that in addition, both sides agree to allocate the $140-million difference in the following manner:

1) 50%, or $70 million, to the James Irvine Foundation.

2) 50%, or $70 million, to the Irvine Co. Foundation.


The corpus shall be left intact and the interest to be allocated annually among the 700-plus nonprofit agencies and organizations in Orange County.

My only caveat is that distribution of funds go specifically to help the homeless, the poor and the needy in Orange County. We’ve now taken care of both the plaintiff and the defendant, neither of whom personally needs the additional money.

The only task remaining is who pays the barristers and expert witnesses? Having watched “L.A. Law,” there is a concept still around called pro bono . Since everyone else would be willing to compromise, I suggest Paul Hastings, Janofsky & Walker as well as Loeb & Loeb be paid for their services in full, and in return, they be asked to donate 50% of their fees to the James Irvine Foundation and the Irvine Co. Foundation. The house of wisdom has seven pillars--knowledge, integrity, judgment, imagination, courage, tolerance and faith. Good manners may in seven words be found: Forget yourself and think of those around. A lesson for us all.