Money might not bring happiness, but it does allow you to make problems go away. This is why many would have thought it strange that the Pratt family was so determined to go to court to end attempts by one mistress of the late Richard Pratt to claim $10 million from his estate.
Madison Ashton, a former escort who was one of Pratt’s mistresses, claimed the late billionaire had in effect breached a contract he had established with her. Ashton said that in return for giving up her work as an escort, Pratt promised to provide her with a $500,000-a-year allowance, $36,000 for rent, $30,000 for travel expenses, a $100,000 car and two trust funds worth $2.5 million for each of her children.
Despite the fact Ashton accepted a $50,000 settlement in November 2005 in return for dropping all claims against Pratt, she pushed on seeking $10 million.
During a week-long trial last year, the NSW Supreme Court heard stories about three-in-a-bed romps, trained assassins working as bodyguards, slush funds, drugs and a bitter feud between Ashton and another Pratt mistress, Shari-Lea Hitchcock.
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Given the Pratt family is worth $5 billion, would $10 million have been a small price to pay not to have all that dirty linen aired?
The Pratts have never said much about the case, but it is clear that they have been trying to deal with various claims by Ashton for more than six years. Ending the claims definitively in court clearly had some appeal.
In addition, it’s also worth noting that the Pratt estate faces another claim by Shari-Lea Hitchcock. Perhaps there was an element of using the Ashton case to send a message to current or future claimants who seek large sums.
If that was the idea, then the message was loud and clear.
Justice Paul Brereton ruled that Ashton and Pratt “did not intend to enter into binding and enforceable legal relations”:
“Ms Ashton’s claims are not maintainable, because they were the subject of an accord and satisfaction in February 2005, when she accepted $100,000 in full and final satisfaction of all her claims against Mr Pratt; and they were again released in November 2005.”
Ashton has also been ordered to pay the Pratt’s costs.
It’s a win for the family. An ugly win perhaps given the claims made in court, but you feel a point has been made.
*This article was originally published at Smart Company