Two of Paul Newman’s daughters have filed a lawsuit against the Newman’s Own Foundation, alleging that the charity has gone against their late father’s wishes by not giving enough funds to charitable organizations of their choosing.
Newman, the celebrated actor, started Newman’s Own food company in 1982. Its first product was oil and vinegar salad dressing, created by Newman and his friend A. E. Hotchner, a writer and editor. The dressing was a hit, and the pair decided to give the proceeds to charity.
Today, Newman’s Own makes a variety of products, including lemonade, popcorn, Newman-Os cookies and more. Newman created the Newman’s Own Foundation in 2005, three years before his death, to donate the profits from Newman Own’s products to charities, with a focus on helping children in need. The foundation says over $570 million has been donated to thousands of organizations over the years.
But in a complaint filed this week, Susan Newman and Nell Newman accused the foundation of failing to follow their father’s vision.
In the years since his death, “Newman’s Own Foundation lost its way and strayed from its mission to preserve and honor Paul Newman’s legacy,” the suit claims.
The foundation is allowed to use Newman’s name and likeness on the Newman’s Own products only if it gives $400,000 a year to each daughter to distribute to charities of their choosing, according to the suit. But recently, the foundation decided to slash that amount in half, the suit said.
“The Foundation is governed by a board of directors that must adhere to regulations applicable,” to nonprofits, a spokesperson for the Newman’s Own Foundation said. “Best practices surrounding philanthropic organizations do not allow for the establishment of perpetual funding allotments for anyone, including Nell and Susan Newman.”
The spokesperson added that “a meritless lawsuit based on this faulty wish would only divert money away from those who benefit from Paul Newman’s generosity,” and that “while we expect to continue to solicit Newman family recommendations for worthy organizations, our funding decisions are made each year.”
Susan and Nell Newman are seeking $1.6 million in damages to be given to charities, as well as a requirement that the foundation adhere to their late father’s instructions in the future.