Lawsuit claims Ernie Harwell estate auction never had permission

Auction of late Detroit Tigers radio voice's items likely to end up in court

By Rod Meloni - Reporter, CFP ®


You may remember the auction from last fall.

Famed Detroit Tigers radio voice Ernie Harwell's travel trunk, signed baseballs, score cards and other items from his family went up for auction. In addition to those items were things not at all related to the Harwell family.

Ernie's son, Bill, hired Randall Paul, of Great Lakes Auctions, to run the auction.

"These were items that Bill had in his possession that he obtained years ago from his mother, from his dad," said Paul.

Six month later, a lawsuit showed up from the Ernie Harwell Foundation. It claims the auction was unauthorized, improper and egregious. It asks for a jury trial to get the money and memorabilia back.

Attorney John Toth represents the foundation.

"There was never any permission, either written or implied, to auction off what essentially belonged to Mrs. Harwell," said Toth.

Ernie's son Bill is not named as a defendant in the suit. It's only against Paul, who doesn't understand why he is likely headed to court.

"A check was made out to Lula Harwell promptly after the auction, and Bill also made a contribution to the Ernie Harwell Foundation out of the proceeds," said Paul.

Toth says permission never was given.

"You need permission, an auctioneer should know that you need permission in order to do that with any estate sale. Or with due diligence find that out, and that was never done," said Toth.

Toth says there may be other litigation to along with the lawsuit. Paul says that's true. He's considering a counter suit and says while the foundation is after more than $25,000, they take from Harwell's part of the auction wasn't that much money.

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