LOS ANGELES, June 27 -- The daughter of 'Star Trek' creator Gene Roddenberry has lost millions of dollars in future 'Star Trek' profits because she contested her father's will against his specific instructions. California's 2nd District Court of Appeal upheld Wednesday a lower court ruling that Dawn Roddenberry forfeited her inheritance by challenging the will. Gene Roddenberry, who died Oct. 24, 1991, apparently anticipated some infighting over his huge estate, which was built on the TV series he launched in the late 1960s and mushroomed with a string of successful feature films, three later TV series and a goldmine in merchandise licensing. He specified in a will prepared Aug. 24, 1990, that any of his heirs who disputed the will's validity or its terms would be disinherited. 'If any beneficiary under this will in any manner, directly or indirectly, contests or attacks this will or any of its provisions, any share or interest in my estate given to that contesting beneficiary under this will is revoked...,' the document said. About six weeks after his death, Dawn Roddenberry filed a document titled 'contest of will and grounds of opposition to probate of purported will.' The dispute was in litigation in Los Angeles Superior Court for nearly two years before it was voluntarily dismissed Nov. 15, 1993, the day it was set to go to trial. The will provided for $500,000 in cash for each of Roddenberry's three children: daughters Dawn and Darleen from his first marriage and son Eugene Wesley Roddenberry Jr. from his second marriage.
His second wife, Majel, was named trustee and life income beneficiary of the primary trust set up by the will. After Majel's death, son 'Rod' was to get 50 percent of the trust and Darleen and Dawn would get one- quarter each. Dawn Roddenberry contested the will, suggesting undue influence and fraud by Majel Roddenberry, that Gene destroyed copies of it with intent to revoke the will, that Gene lacked 'testamentary capacity' when he made the will and that the will was improperly executed. In the course of the litigation, Dawn took some 16 depositions and conducted 'substantial written discovery,' according to the appellate ruling. After Dawn withdrew her contest petition, the will went into probate and in March 1994 her stepmother filed a petition for a court order determining who was entitled to benefit from the will. Majel alleged that under the no-contest clause Dawn was not entitled to her share of the estate. Dawn argued that because her 'contest of will' was brought in good faith and stopped short of going to trial, it did not violate the no- contest clause. She also claimed the no-contest clause should not be enforced because 'there is no affirmative evidence that Gene gave informed consent to its inclusion in his will.' Andrew Garb, attorney for Majel Roddenberry and the estate, said the evidence showed there was no foundation for Dawn's allegation that her father was not competent or had been unduly influenced by others when he drew up the will. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Irving Shimer concluded that Dawn had violated the no-contest provision and should be disinherited. The state appeals court agreed. Garb, announcing the ruling Thursday, said the case is 'certainly one of the largest disinheritances of any heir in American history.' There is no way to estimate the Roddenberry estate's future earnings of Paramount's extremely popular 'Star Trek' franchise, but one source estimated that Dawn Roddenberry may have forfeited hundreds of millions of dollars by contesting the will. Her attorney, Todd Thompson in San Francisco, could not be reached for comment Thursday.