The state’s top court has sided with the Portland Museum of Art in a lawsuit over a disputed bequest.

The museum will now stand to collect a $4.6 million judgment from a civil trial last year. A Cumberland County jury determined in July that Annemarie Germain had coerced the wealthy woman she looked after into changing her will, which had named the museum as primary beneficiary. Germain filed an appeal to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, which affirmed the verdict Tuesday but did not write an opinion to explain that decision.

Thimi Mina, an attorney for the museum, said in an email Tuesday that the court’s decision effectively ends the case.

“The Portland Museum of Art is grateful for the opportunity to serve our community, visitors and members in this uncertain time,” Mina wrote. “In the months to come, the PMA will determine how best to maximize this generous gift, ensuring that the memory of the Eleanor Potter we knew – an avid, engaged, and enthusiastic supporter of the arts – will live on for generations to come.”

An attorney who represented Annemarie Germain in the trial last year did not respond to an email late Tuesday afternoon.

Eleanor G. Potter, a wealthy art collector who lived in Portland, changed her will just months before she died in 2015 at age 89. She removed the museum as her primary beneficiary and instead left most of her estate to Germain, who was her caregiver for the last years of her life. The museum claimed Germain wrongfully dissuaded Potter from making that gift to the museum and sued her in 2017.

The jury ultimately awarded the Portland Museum of Art nearly $3.3 million that was considered lost because of the change in Potter’s will, in addition to more than $1 million in punitive damages. That amount would be substantial to the museum, which received nearly $8 million in contributions and grants in 2017, the most recent year tax documents are available.

“The Museum will avail itself of all available remedies to ensure that the judgment of the Court is satisfied in a manner consistent with the way Mrs. Potter intended,” Mina said.

“This case brought into graphic perspective one of the more serious social problems confronting us today – elder financial abuse,” Mina added. “As our population becomes comprised of more and more vulnerable elderly, this problem poses an increasing threat.”

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