FARMINGTON — An attorney has requested $3.9 million in damages be awarded in a case against a German couple accused of defrauding a wealthy doctor and her estate.

According to a 2005 medical report presented to Franklin County Superior Court Justice Michaela Murphy on Friday, retired Dr. Margarete “Gretl” J. Hoch, 84, formerly of Phillips, had progressive Alzheimer’s disease and dementia before her death on June 24, 2008, in Germany. A legal battle over Hoch’s assets has been ongoing since 2007 and continues in courts in Maine and Germany.

Portland attorney Thimi Mina has represented Hoch and Richard and Lorraine Chandler of Strong, who were designated by Hoch as her attorneys-of-fact in 2001, throughout the case. The Chandlers sued John and Gudrun Stifel of Meinhard, Germany, owners and operators of Naturhotel hessische Schweiz, a spa in Germany where Hoch spent her last years. The 2007 suit cited, among other claims, fraud, undue influence/constructive trust and civil conspiracy. The action was brought after the Chandlers paid an unexpected visit to Hoch after the Stifels prevented contact between them. Court documents state the Chandlers found Hoch in poor health and living in filthy conditions.

Hoch, who practiced medicine for more than 40 years in Franklin County, moved back to Germany in 2005.

Mina claims that the Stifels illegally transferred nearly $4 million of Hoch’s assets for their own benefit.

The Stifels claim Hoch granted them power of attorney over her affairs in 2007 and overseers of her will during her stay there. They have been represented by numerous attorneys in both countries and are currently represented by John Whitman in Maine.

The Stifels’ position is that they have done nothing wrong. They have the power of attorney over Hoch’s assets and that a 2007 will naming them as benefactors is valid, Whitman said during a hearing Friday. He also stated that if the court orders any damages to be paid, it should be limited to less than $250,250 in predeath transfers.

Justice Murphy upheld the Chandlers’ power of attorney in 2008. In addition, Hoch designated Richard Chandler as the personal representative of her last will and testament in 2002, and neither he nor his wife are identified beneficiaries. Named in the will as beneficiaries are Shriners Hospitals for Children, SOS Children’s Villages USA and Franklin County Animal Shelter in Farmington.

Murphy also sided with the Chandlers in their lawsuit against the Stifels. She held the Stifels in contempt of court last year and ordered them to pay $26,989 of their money.

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