SALT LAKE CITY – A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by a Utah man who insists Howard Hughes left him millions in a handwritten will after he rescued the reclusive billionaire from a Nevada ditch.
U.S. District Judge Bruce Jenkins said the dispute over the will was "fully and fairly litigated" in Las Vegas in 1978. The jury said the document was bogus.
Melvin Dummar is "attempting to circumvent the Nevada court's final judgment and to, either directly or indirectly, relitigate his entitlement to a portion of Hughes' estate," Jenkins said Monday without specifically ruling on the merit of the claims.
Dummar, a 61-year-old frozen-meat delivery man, insists he rescued a bloodied Hughes from a ditch in the Nevada desert in 1967 and was left with $156 million in the handwritten will.
Dummar tried to reopen the case based on new evidence and a new witness, a pilot who says he routinely flew Hughes to brothels in rural Nevada and confirmed parts of the improbable story.
Dummar wasn't available for comment. His wife, Bonnie, said they planned to take the case to federal court in Las Vegas, where Jenkins suggested it belonged in the first place.
The judge told Dummar's attorneys at a Nov. 2 hearing they should be "rapping at the door" of Nevada federal court with allegations of fraud from the 1978 trial.
"It's not over," Bonnie Dummar said. "We've only just begun. This time we know we're right."
Dummar's attorney, Stuart Stein, asserted Hughes associates had orchestrated the "perfect fraud" by getting witnesses to testify Hughes never left the Desert Inn between 1966 and 1970.
Witnesses at the Las Vegas trial said Hughes couldn't have been in the desert when Dummar claims he saved the tycoon's life.
Dummar sued Hughes cousin William Lummis, a major beneficiary of the Hughes estate, and Frank Gay, who was chief operating officer of Summa Corp., which controlled Hughes' major assets. Both are retired and living in Texas.
Jenkins dismissed the lawsuit with prejudice, meaning it can't be brought in Utah again, but left the door open for Dummar to try again in Nevada.
"He's giving me a fork in the road, and we're going to take it," Stein said.
Stein filed the case in Utah because Dummar lives in Brigham City, where the handwritten will mysteriously surfaced, delivered by a man who claimed to be Hughes' personal messenger.
Dummar and his lawyers also assert that Hughes associates destroyed flight logs to conceal trips away from the Desert Inn, waived the casino debts of the jury foreman and bribed or coerced handwriting experts to not testify for Dummar.
"We are certain of the fraud. We know Melvin was telling the truth and the other side didn't speak the truth and hid the truth from us," Stein said.
Attorneys for Lummis and Gay didn't immediately return calls from The Associated Press.