Dr. Steinmetz's Testimony
In Re: The Estate Of Irving Fields

What to Look For and How to Find It

The Table of Contents provides a hyperlink to each page of Dr. Steinmetz's testimony. The most noteworthy pages are designated in the Table of Contents by red asterisks. They are

Page 4 On the morning Irving died, Dr. Steinmetz was covering for Dr. Colton. Dr. Steinmetz does not recall having ever treated Irving prior to that morning.

Page 7 Irving was "near the end" when he was readmitted to the hospital prior to dying.

Pages 11-12 On the morning Irving died, "he had a monitor in his room, so he must have been pretty bad ... The abdomen opened up which is an acute emergency. Refuses surgical evaluation, refuses resuscitative measures, morphine drip, discussed with wife and son prognosis."

Note that Dr. Steinmetz phoned Shirley and told her Irving's prognosis. Note too that Irving was connected to a monitor and to tubes that fed him intraveously and drained his bladder. Yet all this was ignored by the Defendant Shirley, her daughter Ryna, and their friends the Stearns, who all testified that Irving looked great that morning!

Page 14 Irving was found writhing in pain at 8:15 AM. His family was called and informed of his condition. Dr. Steinmetz entered a "Last Will" into Irving's medical record at 9:45 AM.

Page 21 According to Dr. Steinmetz, Irving asked him to talk on the phone to his daughter Paige and to write a will in his chart AS HE HAD NOT DRAWN ONE UP.

Irving's confusion is obvious. Contrary to what Irving might have told Dr. Steinmetz, IRVING HAD A WILL. ALSO, IRVING KNEW HE HAD A WILL: he had mentioned it two days earlier to the attorneys whom Paige had called to his bedside.

The Defendant Shirley has testified that Irving didn't trust Paige. Paige herself has acknowledged that she did not have a good relationship with her father. So if Irving was in his right mind, he would never have let Paige dictate his will.

Unlike the will in Irving's safe deposit box, THE WILL THAT DR. STEINMETZ WROTE DIDN'T ADDRESS MOST OF IRVING'S ESTATE, HIS RESIDUAL ESTATE, which later prompted a letter from Shirley's lawyers expressing their intent to claim a share of it.


Page 22 Dr. Steinmetz emphasizes here that when Irving indicated he wanted the property on Petaluma Drive to be divided equally between his children, he meant the house itself, not just its contents. Why? Because Dr. Steinmetz knew that the Defendant had tried to misrepresent this statement (see pages 28-29 and page 44).

Whereas the actions attributed to Irving on the preceding page are not normal for Irving, the actions attributed to him on this page are: refusing Paige money, sentimental about his first wife, wanting his home to pass to his own children, wanting to provide for his grandchildren's education. None of these actions contradict the will he kept in his safe deposit box. HOWEVER, IT IS STILL TROUBLING THAT IRVING WAS LETTING THIS TOTAL STRANGER WRITE A WILL THAT HE DIDN'T NEED.

Page 23 Dr. Steinmetz recalls running into Ryna, her husband, and a third person as he left the hospital. He was later told that the third person was Ryna's teenage son, but he doesn't think so. His recollection is that the third person was an older woman (see too page 24). If so, why would he be told otherwise? Who told him otherwise? (Ryna's law partner David Riggs. See page 37) Could this third person have been the Defendant's best friend, Marian Stearns? If it was Marian, why would Ryna be reluctant to acknowledge that Marian came with her to the hospital?

Page 28 Ryna Mehr's law partner, David Riggs, presented Dr. Steinmetz an affidavit to sign. He refused to sign it. Why?

Dr. Steinmetz refused to sign this affidavit because the affidavit included a statement with which Dr. Steinmetz disagreed. What was this statement?

The statement in the affidavit to which Dr. Steinmetz objected asserted that the Last Will which he entered into Irving's medical record meant only that Irving bequeathed to his children the contents of his home on Petaluma Drive, not the home itself.

Why did Dr. Steinmetz object to this statement? Because he knew it was untrue.

Did Ryna Mehr and her law partners really think it was true? They knew Irving's intentions PRIOR to the day he died. They also knew that AFTER Dr. Steinmetz had written this Last Will into his medical record, Ryna's mother had asked him to give her the house and Irving had said No. So on what basis did they think that the statement the asked Dr. Steinmetz to sign was true?

If Ryna and her law partners really believed that what they asked Dr. Steinmetz to sign was true, why didn't they first call Dr. Steinmetz and simply ask him? Why go to the bother of first preparing the affidavit?

Is this an isolated example of Ryna and her law partners using such tactics? No. Didn't Ryna admit in her deposition to having omitted standard language from the marriage settlement agreement that she and her law partners prepared when her mother and Irving were having marital problems? Didn't Ryna and her law partners repeatedly come back to Irving with documents to sign after Irving indicated that he was not going to allow Ryna's mother to remain in their home at his family's expense? Didn't Ryna and her law partners include in Shirley's will a provision invoking her mother's prenuptial agreement, despite having testified under oath that her mother and Irving had dissolved that agreement two years earlier?

Page 30 Dr. Steinmetz is aware that Dr. Sonneborn entered a note in Irving's medical record after he did and that Dr. Sonneborn's note contradicts what he wrote.

How much time did Dr. Sonneborn spend with Irving? Did Dr. Sonneborn examine Irving a thoroughly as did Dr. Steinmetz? If not, why not? Shouldn't Dr. Steinmetz's note have caused Dr. Sonneborn to have taken even more precautions? Why didn't he? Was he merely doing a favor for his friend Ryna Mehr? Refer to Dr. Sonneborn's deposition for his own answers to such questions.

Dr. Steinmetz's examination was clearly more thorough than Dr. Sonneborn's, it was less influenced by the interested parties, and his conclusions were more consistent with every prior expression of Irving's wishes. Why then did the court uphold Dr. Sonneborn's statement?

Dr. Steinmetz is conscious of the fact that Dr. Sonneborn is the senior partner in his group and also the most respected doctor in the community. Should this matter to the court?

Page 31 Dr. Steinmetz testifies that Irving was still in a great deal of pain WHEN HE LEFT. Yet Shirley and Ryna testified that Irving didn't seem to be in any pain. Does this suggest that the morphine exerted its effect quickly and potently? Would that be the case if Irving had developed the kind of tolerance that Dr. Steinmetz suggested earlier?

Dr. Steinmetz testifies that his personal feeling is that "the whole thing was atrocious". WHAT MADE IT ATROCIOUS? Irving's lack of competency? The undue influence that others exerted upon him?

Most people agree with Dr. Steinmetz's assessment that the whole thing was atrocious, yet the court upheld the actions which were most contrary to the wishes that Irving has repeatedly expressed previously. And by doing so, the court hurt the only parties who were not involved, namely Irving's son and Irving's grandchildren.

Page 39 Dr. Steinmetz testifies here that Dr. Sonneborn expressed to him his feeling that "this whole thing was a tragedy, and that he [Irving] certainly had a will before he passed away."

Page 44 The Defendant's attorney asks Dr. Steinmetz how he came to the conclusion that Irving wanted to bequeathe his house, rather than just its contents, to his children. Dr. Steinmetz answers that Irving told him so.

Dr. Steinmetz indicates that he was skeptical about having Irving's daughter Paige dictate her father's last will. Dr. Sonneborn testifies to having similar reservations when Ryna Mehr approached him. However, Dr. Steinmetz addressed his concerns to Irving; Dr. Sonneborn didn't. In fact, Dr. Sonneborn testified that he considered Ryna Mehr to be Irving's spokesperson, as if Irving needed someone to speak on his behalf.

There are other significant differences in the way Dr. Steinmetz and Dr. Sonneborn intervened. For example, Irving seems to have asked Dr. Steinmetz to intervene with his daughter Paige (see page 21), whereas Ryna Mehr approached Dr. Sonneborn to intervene on her own behalf. Furthermore, Dr. Steinmetz was actually attending to Irving's medical needs, whereas Dr. Sonneborn wasn't. According to Dr. Sonneborn, he did what he did as a favor for his friend Ryna Mehr, not Irving Fields.