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In an appeal by allowance, the issue presented to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court was whether the Superior Court applied the correct statute of limitations for a survival action in a medical professional liability case. In 2005, Elise Dubose was admitted to Albert Einstein Medical Center (Einstein) after she fell in her home and sustained severe head injuries, including anoxia and a brain injury. She was transferred to Willowcrest Nursing Home where Mrs. Dubose suffered malnourishment, dehydration, conscious pain from bedsores, a bone infection, and a sepsis systemic infection. An ulcers located at the sacral region of the spine which Mrs. Dubose developed during her initial hospitalization, gradually increased in size. The sacral ulcer became infected with bacteria from contact with feces. This infection caused sepsis in Mrs. Dubose in September 2007, and she was admitted to Einstein with sepsis. On October 18, 2007, Mrs. Dubose died from sepsis and multiple pressure sores. On August 13, 2009, Robert Dubose, as administrator for Mrs. Dubose's estate, filed a complaint against Willowcrest and Albert Einstein Healthcare Network (collectively Appellants) sounding in negligence and alleged wrongful death. The Supreme Court concluded the statute of limitations for medical professional liability cases in the form of wrongful death or survival actions was two years from the time of the decedent’s death. View "Dubose v. Willowcrest Nur. Home" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s grant of Patricia and Robert Porenta’s marital home to Patricia in this case involving a fraudulent transfer of the home to Robert’s mother (Mother). During the divorce proceedings of Patricia and Robert, Robert transferred his interest in the couple’s marital home to Mother with the intent to avoid Patricia’s claim to the home. Robert subsequently died, and the divorce case was dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. Thereafter, Patricia filed this action against Mother alleging that the transfer was fraudulent under the Utah Fraudulent Transfer Act. The district court granted the marital home to Patricia. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the Utah Fraudulent Transfer Act requires an ongoing debtor-creditor relationship when a claim under the Act is filed, and the debtor-creditor relationship was in this case was not extinguished when Robert died because an ongoing debtor-creditor relationship existed between Patricia and Robert’s estate; and (2) the trial court did not err in granting Patricia the entire marital home rather than money damages, but the matter is remanded for a determination of the current status of title. View "Porenta v. Porenta" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the circuit court’s order refusing to terminate an irrevocable trust and granted summary judgment in favor of the trustees. The sole beneficiary of the trust sought to terminate the trust and requested that the court distribute the assets to her. The beneficiary also alleged that the trustees had breached their fiduciary duties. The circuit court declined to terminate the trust. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the circuit court erred in finding the trust to be unambiguous; and (2) the circuit court erred in not terminating the trust and distributing the trust property to the beneficiary because the trust purpose had been fulfilled and because termination of the trust would “substantially further the trustee’s purposes in creating the trust.” View "In re Guardianship & Conservatorship of Novotny" on Justia Law

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Candy Parkhurst ("Parkhurst"), personal representative of the estate of her husband, Andrew P. Parkhurst ("Andrew"), deceased, file suit to compel Carter C. Norvell and Parkhurst & Norvell, an accounting firm Norvell had operated as a partnership with Andrew ("the partnership"), to arbitrate a dispute regarding the dissolution of the partnership. Pursuant to an arbitration provision in a dissolution agreement Norvell and Andrew had executed before Andrew's death, the trial court ultimately ordered arbitration and stayed further proceedings until arbitration was complete. Subsequently, however, Parkhurst moved the trial court to lift the stay and to enter a partial summary judgment resolving certain aspects of the dispute in her favor. After the trial court lifted the stay and scheduled a hearing on Parkhurst's motion, Norvell and the partnership appealed, arguing that the trial court was effectively failing to enforce the terms of a valid arbitration agreement in violation of the Federal Arbitration Act. The Alabama Supreme Court determined there was no evidence in the record indicating that Norvell made such an agreement and he, in fact, denied doing so. In the absence of any evidence that would establish such an agreement, as well as any other evidence that would conclusively establish that Norvell clearly and unequivocally expressed an intent to waive his right to have the arbitrator resolve this dispute. As such, Parkhurst failed to meet her burden of showing that the arbitration provision in the dissolution agreement should not have been enforced. Accordingly, the trial court erred by lifting the arbitral stay in order to consider Parkhurst's motion for a partial summary judgment, and its judgment doing so was reversed and remanded. View "Norvell v. Parkhurst" on Justia Law

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William and Daniel, the children of Victor (Decedent), are the beneficiaries of Decedent's estate. In 2010, the probate court appointed William as the personal representative of the Estate. In 2014, Daniel filed a petition alleging that William had not filed any reports on the status of the administration of the Estate, that multiple notices of default had been recorded against real property owned by the Estate, that William had not rented out the property or otherwise made it productive, and Daniel did not know the status of the Estate's remaining assets. After a trial, in April 2015, the court orally announced its decision to remove William as personal representative and to appoint Ocaña in his place. Its final decision issued in April 2016. The court of appeal affirmed, rejecting an argument that the order was not appealable. The trial court expressly reserved jurisdiction to issue a further statement of its reasons; the 2015 order was therefore not final. The Probate Code provides for an appeal from an order removing a fiduciary, so the appeal should not be dismissed on the ground that the order appears in a statement of decision rather than a separate order or judgment. The court upheld the factual findings regarding William’s neglect of the estate. View "Estate of Reed" on Justia Law

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Jacquelin Stevenson (Mother) was the sole lifetime beneficiary of two trusts created by the will of her husband, who died in 1988. The residual beneficiaries of the two trusts were her sons, Thomas Stevenson III and Daniel Stevenson II (collectively, the Stevenson brothers), and her daughters, Respondents. The Stevenson brothers were also co-trustees of the two trusts from 1999 to 2006. Respondents alleged that while the brothers were co-trustees, they violated their fiduciary duties by unlawfully taking money from the trusts. Respondents claimed the Stevenson brothers stole approximately five million dollars from the two trusts. The South Carolina Supreme Court granted certiorari to review the court of appeals' decision reversing in part a circuit court order which granted Petitioners summary judgment on Respondents' individual cause of action for aiding and abetting a breach of fiduciary duty. The sole issue on appeal was whether this cause of action survived summary judgment. After review, the Supreme Court concluded there was sufficient evidence to allow the aiding and abetting claim to survive summary judgment; the aiding and abetting claim survived Mother's death. The Court affirmed the court of appeals, who reversed summary judgment in favor of petitioners. View "Bennett v. Carter" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the circuit court’s summary judgment determination that an option agreement was supported by consideration and that the option price of $50,000 would be used in calculating the decedent’s wife’s elective share. After the decedent died without a will, a dispute arose between the decedent’s son and the decedent’s wife of more than thirty years about the disposition of the decedent’s one-half interest in the partnership he formed with his son. The son argued that he had a valid contractual option to purchase the decedent’s entire one-half interest in the partnership for $50,000 according to an option agreement executed between the father and son. The wife argued that her elective share should be based upon the full value of the partnership, which she valued at approximately $1 million. The Supreme Court agreed, holding (1) the option agreement was testamentary in nature, executed in the guise of a partnership agreement; (2) the option agreement contradicted the public policies and principles of the elective share statutory scheme and was unenforceable against the wife for the purposes of determining her elective share; and (3) the wife was entitled to her elective share of the decedent’s augmented estate, which included the value of the decedent’s undivided one-half interest in the partnership. View "Young v. Young" on Justia Law

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Richard Howarth, Jr. died in an airplane crash in 2012. Howarth was piloting the plane, which was the property of M&H Ventures, LLC. Howarth was also the sole member of the M&H. In 2013, Howarth’s widow, Cyndy, as executrix of Howarth’s estate, wrongful death beneficiary of Howarth, and next friend of minor daughter Cynthia Howarth, along with adult daughter Juliet Howarth McDonald (the wrongful death beneficiaries), filed suit against the LLC, alleging that Howarth’s death had been caused by the negligence, gross negligence, and recklessness of M&H Ventures and others. M&H Ventures filed a motion to dismiss, and, subsequently, a motion for summary judgment, arguing that the wrongful death beneficiaries could not recover because the success of their claims depended on proving that Howarth’s own negligence had caused his death. In response, the wrongful death beneficiaries argued that, because M&H Ventures, as an LLC, owned the aircraft and all of Howarth’s negligent actions had been performed as a member of this LLC, they could recover from M&H Ventures for Howarth’s negligence. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of M&H Ventures. Because the comparative negligence statute prevented a plaintiff from recovering for negligence attributable to the injured person, and Howarth’s wrongful death beneficiaries were seeking recovery for Howarth’s own negligence, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed. View "Howarth v. M & H Ventures, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed a circuit court order approving the redrafting of Dean Nelson’s will. The change in the will was proposed upon the petition of Dean’s conservator after Dean was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Elizabeth Nelson, Dean’s wife, argued on appeal that the circuit court erred in permitting the conservator to adopt the new will, which eliminated a trust established for Elizabeth’s benefit consisting of Elizabeth’s lifetime, one-half interest in the residue of Dean’s estate. The Supreme Court agreed, holding that the circuit court’s decision to authorize the conservator to change the will was an abuse of discretion due to the lack of adequate factual findings. View "In re Guardianship of Nelson" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court ruling that the Commissioner of Accounts had subject matter jurisdiction to hear a petition for aid and direction initially filed with the Commissioner seeking construction of the decedent’s will and the determination of his heirs. The court held (1) Appellant had standing to bring this appeal because the circuit court could potentially determine that he was a beneficiary of the will on remand, and Rule 5:25 also did not bar this appeal because challenges to subject matter jurisdiction can be raised at any time; and (2) the Commissioner did not exceed his authority when he, without a referral from the circuit court, conducted a hearing and produced a report interpreting the decedent’s will and determining his heirs. View "Gray v. Binder" on Justia Law