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Although most lawyers around town remember former Steptoe & Johnson managing partner Robert Wallick for the large role he played in the Reagan administration’s efforts to decentralize government, his heirs’ most recent actions muddy that picture a bit. A year and a half after Wallick died of complications from prostate cancer, negotiations between three children from his first marriage and two from his second marriage over Wallick’s life insurance and retirement money have broken down. Christopher and Jonathan Dodge, Wallick’s stepsons from his second marriage, are suing Steptoe and Chief Operating Officer Paul Kruse in D.C. federal court, claiming that the firm has refused to pay the heirs of Wallick’s estate. They are seeking more than $5 million. Steptoe, which has yet to answer the complaint, says it is merely caught in the crossfire. “We feel very badly there is a dispute between the heirs,” says Thomas Barba, Steptoe’s in-house general counsel. “We want to make sure the correct heirs are paid and make sure they are paid as quickly as possible.” So far, Steptoe has not paid out any of the money Wallick accrued since 1957. In their complaint, filed Aug. 2, the Dodges allege Steptoe refused to pay benefits to Wallick’s wife of 35 years, Ann Day Wallick, even after she wrote the firm in September 2005 to claim benefits. She died earlier this year, and the complaint asks that those benefits be paid to her estate. William Davis of Ross, Marsh & Foster, who is representing the three children from Wallick’s first marriage, says his clients expect to be actively involved in the case as an interpleader. The Dodges’ counsel, Karl Pilger of Boring & Pilger, did not return calls.
Anna Palmer can be contacted at [email protected].

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