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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the circuit court’s dismissal of this challenge to a decedent’s pre-death conveyance, holding that Plaintiff may have an unjust enrichment claim against one of the defendants in this case. Plaintiff’s father, the decedent in this case, promised Plaintiff he would leave her half of his estate if Plaintiff conveyed considerable amounts of land to her father and nephew. The decedent, however, left Plaintiff only $30,000 in his will after conveying the vast majority of his multi-million-dollar estate to Plaintiff’s nephew. Plaintiff sued her nephew and the estate alleging fraud, contract, and unjust enrichment. The circuit court granted summary judgment for the defendants. The Supreme Court (1) affirmed the denial of the breach of contract claim, holding that this claim failed under S.D. Codified Laws 29A-2-514 because it was not evidenced in writing; (2) affirmed the denial of Plaintiff’s fraud claim, holding that S.D. Codified Laws 29A-3-803 barred this claim; and (3) reversed the circuit court’s grant of summary judgment on Plaintiff’s unjust enrichment claim against her nephew, holding that genuine issues of material fact existed precluding summary judgment on this claim. View "Huston v. Martin" on Justia Law

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Rhonda Stephan as the personal representative of the Estate of Bobby Gene Hicks, appealed an order granting a motion to compel arbitration filed by Millennium Nursing and Rehab Center, Inc. Stephan contends that Hicks, her father, died in 2015 while he was a resident at Millennium Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, a skilled-nursing facility owned and operated by Millennium ("the Rehab Center"). During Hicks's hospitalization at Crestwood Medical Center ("Crestwood"), Stephan signed all the paperwork arranging for her father to be discharged from the hospital and transferred to the Rehab Center; however, she did not hold a power of attorney or other actual legal authority to act on Hicks's behalf or to contract in his name. Hicks did not sign any of the paperwork, but he is named as a party to the contracts included within that paperwork. On October 26, 2015, Hicks was transferred from Crestwood to the Rehab Center. The Alabama Supreme Court concluded Stephan could not be bound to the arbitration provision in her capacity as personal representative to Hicks' estate when she signed the agreement at issue here in her capacity, in what amounted to, Hicks' relative or next friend. View "Stephan v. Millennium Nursing and Rehab Center, Inc." on Justia Law

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The issue this case presented for the Mississippi Supreme Court's review centered on whether Appellant Marilyn Newsome's claims could survive summary judgment against Appellees, People’s Bank and Chris Dunn. The claims addressed the issuance of cashier’s checks by People’s Bank and Chris Dunn without Newsome's signature or approval, the conservatorship account holder. Victoria Newsome had settled a medical malpractice case, but she was unable to manage her affairs. The trial court appointed Newsome, Victoria's mother, as conservator. A trial court denied a request to purchase a home for Victoria, and instead, ordered that a house be built for her. In the interim, the trial court ordered a mobile home to be purchased. With the help of Dunn, a Bank employee, Newsome opened a checking account for the conservatorship with the Bank. When Newsome opened the conservatorship account, she signed a Deposit Agreement as the sole authorized signor on the account. Newsome testified that she did not have any discussions with the Bank about who would be authorized to sign on the account. The Deposit Agreement also provided that Newsome had thirty days to review her statements for errors or unauthorized activity. The estate attorneys prepared court orders for release of funds to pay for construction of the house; the trial court would in turn approve the orders, and the attorney would deliver the orders to the Bank for release of funds. The Orders did not provide any guidance, particularly whether cashier's checks could be issued to disburse the money. Despite frequent visits to the bank herself, Newsome allegedly never sought monthly accounting of the conservator account. Newsome filed suit, alleging the Bank and Dunn were liable for failing to require Newsome's signature on any checks negotiated on the conservatorship account. The Mississippi Supreme Court determined Newsome's case could indeed survive summary judgment, reversed the trial court in part, affirmed in part, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Newsome v. Peoples Bancshares" on Justia Law

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Defendant was convicted of theft from an elder or dependent adult in 2010 (the criminal action). After the victim died before the end of the criminal action, plaintiff, the conservator and the co-administrator, filed two actions against defendant under Probate Code section 850, seeking civil damages (the probate action) and another action that resulted in a restitution award (restitution judgment). The Court of Appeal held that, pursuant to the terms of a stipulation concerning the amount of restitution in the criminal action, defendant's prejudgment restitution payments should have been credited against principal rather than interest. The court held, however, that even after adjusting the remaining principal on the restitution judgment to account for prejudgment payments, defendant still owed a substantial sum. Therefore, the court remanded for recalculation of the amount remaining due on the restitution judgment. The court rejected defendant's remaining arguments. The court affirmed the judgment in the probate action. View "Kerley v. Weber" on Justia Law

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Shane Dockter appealed the denial of his N.D.R.Civ.P. 60(b) motion to vacate a default judgment, arguing the judgment was either void or should have been vacated for excusable neglect. Brandon and Shane Dockter were brothers. In 2007, the brothers formed a partnership to facilitate a joint farming operation. In conjunction with the formation of the partnership, the brothers also created a trust, the Dockter Brothers Irrevocable Trust, to hold farmland. The brothers were co-trustees of the trust. Shane had mental health and chemical dependency problems. By 2012, Shane's mental health and chemical dependency had escalated and caused him to be absent from the farm. In 2015, Shane was detained by law enforcement after he was found walking down a public road carrying a Bible while wearing a church robe and claiming to be Jesus. The incident resulted in Shane's admission to the North Dakota State Hospital for about a month. Around the same time, Shane developed an addiction to opioids and methamphetamine. He was readmitted to the State Hospital in late 2016 after threatening his mother. In February 2017, Shane was arrested for various offenses and was readmitted to the State Hospital. Brandon commenced a lawsuit against Shane seeking "dissolution" of the partnership and "dissolution" of the trust. Brandon alleged that "Shane's mental health and chemical dependency problems" made him unable to participate in partnership activities and made it impossible to achieve the purpose of the trust. Shane was served while in custody at the sheriff's office. Shane did not answer the complaint, and he was readmitted to the State Hospital for another month. While Shane was at the Hospital, Brandon moved for default judgment. Shane was served with the motion for default judgment at the State Hospital, but did not respond. The district court ultimately granted the default judgment "expell[ing]" Shane from the partnership and removing him as co-trustee of the trust. On appeal, Shane argued: (1) the default judgment was void and should have been vacated under N.D.R.Civ.P. 60(b)(4); and (2) the court abused its discretion by denying relief as provided in N.D.R.Civ.P. 60(b)(1), which allowed relief from a final judgment for mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect. Applying the limited standard for reviewing denial of motions to vacate default judgments, the North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the district court did not abuse its discretion and affirmed the orders denying the motion. View "Dockter v. Dockter" on Justia Law

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A jury entered a verdict against defendant HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital of Gadsden, LLC in a medical malpractice case brought by plaintiff Regina Honts, as personal representative of the estate of Doris Green. HealthSouth Gadsden then filed a postjudgment motion seeking a judgment as a matter of law ("a JML"), a new trial, or a remittitur of the damages award. After an evidentiary hearing as to the request for a remittitur, the trial court denied the postjudgment motion. HealthSouth Gadsden appealed; Honts cross-appealed, challenging rulings on discovery issues. As to HealthSouth Gadsden's appeal, case no. 1160045, the Alabama Supreme Court reversed the trial court's judgment and remand the case for a new trial. As to Honts' cross-appeal, case no. 1160068, the Court affirmed. Honts' complaint pinpointed the start of Green's decline at a time during her residency at HealthSouth Gadsen, a nurse administered medication to Green that Green later had an adverse reaction to. Honts sought discovery of the nurse's personnel file; the trial court determined Honts failed to show what would have been in the personnel file that could establish a breach of the standard of care by HealthSouth Gasden with respect to Green. The Supreme Court determined the trial court erred in instructing the jury on the hospital standard of care, reversed the jury verdict as to that issue, and remanded for a new trial. View "HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital of Gadsden, LLC v. Honts" on Justia Law

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William Barrett ("Bill") appealed a circuit court order entering summary judgment in favor of George Harvey Barrett ("George") and the trustees of the George Harvey Barrett Trust--Gail Ledbetter Cole Kaphan, Curtis L. Barrett, Jr., and Charles Ledbetter (collectively, "the trustees"). He also challenged the denial of his motion for a partial summary judgment on the basis that the circuit court lacked the authority to modify the trust. In 1999, Ben and Janet Barrett died in a plane crash. The Barretts' wills, the applicable provisions of which were identical, established the "Children's Trust" for the benefit of George and his two younger siblings and provided that each child would receive his or her portion of the trust proceeds upon reaching age 25 and that the trust would terminate when the youngest child reached age 25. In June 2000, the circuit court, on the petition of the trustees, modified the Children's Trust to establish separate trusts for each Barrett child and to provide that the trustees "are required to pay 40% of the trust assets to each Barrett child upon his or her attainment of 25 years of age and the remaining 60% of said trust assets upon the attainment of 35, at which time said Trust shall terminate." The trust assets were largely Central Alabama Bancshares, Inc. stock. In August 2014, George offered to sell a share of his bank stock to his cousin Bill because the trustees refused to give him enough money from the trust to meet his financial needs. While George was an inpatient at a rehabilitation center, Bill's attorney wrote a letter to Curtis informing Curtis that George would be turning 35, and requested the trustees transfer either to Bill or to George the bank stock and all dividends that had been paid on the stock since August 22, 2014. The trustees informed Bill that they would not turn over the bank stock to him absent a court order. George was discharged with instructions that he have a conservator, due to his memory and attention impairments. The trustees thereafter petitioned to modify the trust because George was unable to manage his financial affairs. The trustees did not name Bill as a necessary party to the trust-modification proceeding despite knowing that he had a claim against the trust assets. The Alabama Supreme Court found that the circuit court erred in finding the agreement between Bill and George void ab initio, thereby precluding Bill from enforcing his rights under that agreement. "The circuit court's interpretation of the shareholders agreement does not comport with the plain language of the agreement, and, in fact, dictates an inequitable result." View "Barrett v. Barrett" on Justia Law

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Appellants Beverly Burns, Michael Ashley, and Debbie Elrod appealed the denial of their will contest, admitting to probate the will of Rheba Ashley, and issuing letters testamentary to James Ashley. The Alabama Supreme Court determined the only action the probate court took with respect to James' petition to probate Rheba's will was the appointment of an administrator ad colligendum of the estate. This appointment was insufficient to initiate the general administration of the estate, thus the circuit court could not assume jurisdiction over the administration. Accordingly, the circuit court's purporting to remove the administration of Rheba's estate from the probate court and its judgment relating to the admission of Rheba's will to probate and issued letters testamentary to James, were void for lack of jurisdiction and were therefore vacated. View "Burns v. Ashley" on Justia Law

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The Obata sisters, died intestate in 2013, having never married and with no descendants. Letters of administration of the estates were issued in the Alameda County Superior Court. A dispute arose regarding the line of succession that centered on the decedents’ father, Tomejiro and the impact of his “yōshi-engumi” by Minejiro and Kiku Obata in 1911. Appellants are the descendants of Tomejiro’s biological parents, the Nakanos. The court found in favor of the Obata family members. The court concluded that California recognizes Tomejiro’s yōshi-engumi as a legal adoption and that under the Probate Code, “The adoption of Tomejiro Obata by Minejiro Obata and Kiku Obata severed the relationship of parent and child between Tomejiro Obata and his natural parents.” The court of appeal affirmed, citing Probate Code sections 6450-6451. While the primary purpose of Tomejiro’s adoption may have been to create an heir, the role of an heir in Japanese society at that time was considerably more expansive than under California law, involving not just inheritance rights, but financial and moral obligations to care for relatives and honor the family’s ancestors. Whether Tomejiro’s adoption would have terminated his relationship with his biological parents under Japanese law now or in 1911 is immaterial. View "Estate of Obata" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's holding that the general partnership interests at issue qualified as securities under federal law and that defendant violated federal securities law by selling unregistered securities and defrauding his investors. In this case, the general partnership interests at issue were stripped of the hallmarks of a general partnership and marketed as passive investments. The panel held that, in light of defendant's death during the pendency of the appeal and the executor replaced as the name party, as well as intervening Supreme Court precedent, several aspects of the district court's judgment require vacatur and remand. Therefore, the panel vacated the civil penalty order and the disgorgement order, remanding for further proceedings. View "USSEC v. Schooler" on Justia Law