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Albert Daniels petitioned the Alabama Supreme Court for a writ of mandamus compelling the Barbour Circuit Court to vacate its order severing and staying Daniels's claims against defendants Joseph Morris, Tracy Cary, and Morris, Cary, Andrews, Talmadge & Driggers, LLC ("the Morris firm"), and also to compel the circuit court to enter a default judgment. Sherry Johnson and Daniels were the parents of Alquwon Johnson. On June 4, 2011, Alquwon committed suicide while he was an inmate in the Barbour County jail. Johnson engaged the Morris firm to pursue a wrongful-death claim related to Alquwon's death. Johnson, as the personal representative of Alquwon's estate, filed a wrongful-death action in the Barbour Circuit Court. Johnson was represented by the Morris defendants in the wrongful-death litigation. The case was removed to federal court. In 2015, the case was settled. The Morris defendants distributed the settlement funds to Johnson; none of the proceeds were paid to Daniels. Daniels telephoned the Morris firm to inquire about retaining the firm to file a wrongful-death suit related to Alquwon's death. After speaking with an employee of the firm, Daniels was told that the firm had a conflict of interest and could not represent him. He later received a letter from Cary stating that "a lawsuit brought on your behalf would not be economically feasible given the nature, facts and circumstances surrounding your case." The Morris firm did not inform Daniels about the prior lawsuit and that it had settled the case and paid the settlement proceeds to Johnson. On September 18, 2015, Daniels filed suit against Johnson alleging that, as Alquwon's father, Daniels was entitled to 50% of the net settlement proceeds but that Johnson had wrongfully retained the entire amount. He asserted against Johnson claims of breach of fiduciary duty and conversion. Two years later, Daniels added as defendants the Morris defendants and asserting two claims against them. Count three of Daniels's amended complaint asserted a claim of fraud against the Morris defendants. After review, the Alabama Supreme Court concluded the Alabama Legal Services Liability Act ("ALSLA") did not require that Daniels's claims against the Morris defendants be bifurcated and stayed pending resolution of his claims against Johnson. Accordingly, the circuit court was directed to vacate its order bifurcating and staying Daniels's claims against the Morris defendants. Daniels, however, did not establish a clear legal right to a default judgment against the Morris defendants. Thus, as to the request for a default judgment, the petition was denied. View "Ex parte Albert Daniels." on Justia Law

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At issue was the lawfulness of allowing a hospital to transfer a patient involuntarily to a skilled nursing facility in the absence of a guardianship. The Supreme Court held that the appointment of a guardian over an incapacitated person is necessary, but not by itself sufficient, to admit an incapacitated person to a nursing facility against his or her will, because such an admission requires an additional order by the court based on a specific finding that the admission is in the incapacitated person’s best interest. Specifically, the Court held that when a hospital patient refuses to consent to be transferred to a nursing facility, a judge may order the patient to be admitted to a nursing facility under the Massachusetts Uniform Probate Code only if the judge (1) finds the patient to be an incapacitated person; (2) makes the other findings necessary to appoint a guardian under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 190B, 5-306(b); and (3) then grants the guardian specific authority under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 190B, 5-309(g) to admit the incapacitated person to a nursing facility after finding that such admission is in the incapacitated person’s best interest. View "In re Guardianship of D.C." on Justia Law

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The biological child of a deceased parent whose parental rights were either voluntarily relinquished or involuntarily terminated prior to the parent’s death does not meet the statutory definition of a descendant of the parent and therefore does not qualify to inherit under the descent and distribution provisions of the West Virginia Code when the parent dies intestate. Plaintiff appealed the circuit court’s award of summary judgment to Defendants. The award was based upon the circuit court’s conclusion that a child may not inherit from a parent who died intestate after his parental rights to that child were legally terminated. The Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court’s determination that Plaintiff may not inherit from her father’s intestate estate because a parent whose parental rights have been terminated does not meet the definition of a “parent” set out in W. Va. Code 42-1-1. View "Hall v. Hall" on Justia Law

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A successor trustee filed suit against defendants, alleging claims arising from an allegedly void assignment of a deed of trust on certain real property and a failed short sale agreement. The Court of Appeal held that the trial court properly sustained the demurrers to all causes of action, but abused its discretion in denying leave to amend. In this case, the trustee has proposed facts sufficient to show that the assignment at issue was void. Accordingly, the court reversed and directed the trial court to grant the trustee leave to amend the complaint. View "Hacker v. Homeward Residential, Inc." on Justia Law

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Rodney Hogen appealed an order granting Steven Hogen's petition for approval of a final report and accounting for the Curtiss A. Hogen Trust B. In his appeal, Rodney Hogen raised multiple issues. For purposes of this decision, the North Dakota Supreme Court consolidated the issues into four related subjects involving his claims the district court erred: (1) in determining the Trust did not immediately terminate upon Arline Hogen's death; (2) in authorizing the sale of Trust property and ordering an offset of more than $300,000 from his share of the property; and (3) in awarding trustee's fees and attorney's fees. Hogen also argued (4) the trial court was not impartial. Considering these categories, the Supreme Court found no reversible error and affirmed the district court. View "Matter of Hogen Trust B" on Justia Law

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Sandy Botteicher ("Botteicher") appeals from a judgment dismissing her claims against Pam and Darwin Becker (collectively "Beckers") and awarding the Beckers $5,000 for their attorney fees. Botteicher and Pam Becker are sisters and heirs to their mother's estate. Following the death of their father in January 2015, Pam Becker was appointed legal guardian for their mother who was residing in a nursing home. Their mother died in July 2015. A third party was appointed personal representative of their mother's estate ("the estate"). Following the filing of the closing documents by the personal representative, Botteicher filed a number of petitions or motions. In her petitions, Botteicher sought to set aside what the parties refer to as the "Warehouse" transaction, a real property transfer in Dickinson that occurred in 2010 and 2011. Botteicher also requested an evidentiary hearing, objected to the final accounting, sought formal testacy proceedings, sought the disqualification of the attorney representing the personal representative, moved for the appointment of herself as the personal representative and sought to keep the estate open by alleging that numerous items of her mother's personal property were missing from the inventory and appraisement. The probate court denied all of the petitions or motions filed by Botteicher. The court denied the petition seeking to set aside the Warehouse transfer after concluding the personal representative, not Botteicher, had "standing" to assert an action to challenge the Warehouse transfer in the probate proceedings, and that the request to set aside the property transfer was "not properly in front of the Court." In the probate proceedings, Botteicher was attempting to personally initiate an action against the Beckers to set aside a transfer made by the decedent. The probate court issued an order approving the inventory and appraisement as well as the final account and distribution. Botteicher did not appeal the final decree of distribution. Approximately one month after the probate proceedings were closed, Botteicher and her daughter, Alexandra Botteicher, brought this action against the Beckers, alleging multiple claims regarding the estate's transactions under the Beckers. Unsuccessful, Botteicher challenged the district court's determination that some of her claims were previously resolved in separate probate proceedings and were barred by res judicata, that her claim for interference with the right of burial and her claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress could be dismissed as a matter of law, and that the Beckers were entitled to an award of attorney fees. The North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed the judgment. View "Botteicher v. Becker" on Justia Law

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Glenn Solberg appealed an amended judgment dismissing his claims against the estate of his stepfather, Lyle Nelson ("Lyle Nelson Estate"). Solberg challenged the district court's dismissal of his claim seeking ownership of 100 mineral acres and seeking to enforce an option to purchase real property. The court determined that the mineral interests and real property alleged to be subject to the option were never within the Lyle Nelson Estate and that Solberg's claim was also untimely. The North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed the amended judgment and granted the Lyle Nelson Estate's request for an award of costs and attorney fees for a frivolous appeal under N.D.R.App.P. 38. View "Estate of Nelson" on Justia Law

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This appeal stemmed from the Forsyth County, Georgia Probate Court’s finding that Emanuel Gladstone breached his fiduciary duty as conservator for his incapacitated wife, Jacqueline Gladstone. The court entered a judgment against Gladstone and his surety, Ohio Casualty Insurance Company, for $167,000 “on the settlement of accounts and as damages” and $150,000 in punitive damages. The Court of Appeals affirmed the probate court’s judgment. The Georgia Supreme Court granted Ohio Casualty’s petition for certiorari, and the Georgia Supreme Court directed the parties to address two questions: (1) whether the appellate court erred in holding that a conservator’s bond covered punitive damages even though such damages were not expressly provided for under OCGA 29-5-40 et seq. or under the provisions of the bond itself; and (2) if a conservator’s bond did cover punitive damages, did the Court of Appeals err in holding that because the probate court complied with OCGA 29-5-92 (b) (4) in imposing sanctions against the petitioner, compliance with the procedures for imposing punitive damages under OCGA 51-12-5.1 was not required. The Supreme Court answered the first question in the affirmative, rendering the second question moot. View "In re Estate of Gladstone" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's summary judgment orders in an action where creditors were attempting to collect on judgments against Vertical and Defendant Reuter by levying assets now belonging to Reuter's wife. Leaving aside the question whether creditors have made a sufficient showing to justify piercing the corporate veil, the court held that creditors' tenancy-by-the-entirety theory failed under Missouri law. In this case, no reasonable jury could conclude that there was clear, cogent and convincing evidence that Reuter and his wife participated in the tortfeasor partnership as a married couple, and thus summary judgment in their favor for the claims seeking to pierce the corporate veil and reach the assets that once belonged to them as a married couple was proper. In regard to plaintiff's alternative theory, the court held that the bankruptcy court correctly determined that Reuter did not own 50 percent of the Trust as a settlor, and thus creditors' allegation that he fraudulently transferred his share to his wife necessarily failed. View "Cutcliff v. Reuter" on Justia Law

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Fred W. Suggs, Jr., as personal representative of the Estate of Frances W. Gray, deceased, appealed a circuit court order denying his Rule 60(b), Ala. R. Civ. P., motion for relief from judgments entered by the circuit court on the basis that the court lacked subject-matter jurisdiction to enter those judgments. Frances ("the wife") died testate in September 2011, and the Probate Court issued letters testamentary to her husband, Floyd Gray ("husband"), establishing him as the personal representative of his wife's estate. The husband died testate in January 2012, and the probate court issued letters testamentary to Elizabeth Gray ("Gray"), establishing her as the personal representative of the husband's estate. The probate court then appointed Suggs as the successor personal representative of the wife's estate. Gray and Suggs thereafter sold the house in which the husband and the wife had lived. They had owned the house as tenants in common; there was no survivorship provision. Before the sale of the house, both Gray and Suggs agreed that the net proceeds from the sale would be held in a trust account the law firm representing both estates. At some point, Suggs sent the law firm a letter stating that the wife's estate had a "claim" against the husband's estate and instructing the law firm not to disburse any proceeds to the husband's estate until the "matter" was resolved. While the administration of both estates was pending in the probate court, Gray filed a declaratory-judgment action, asserting that a controversy existed between her and Suggs concerning the disbursement of the proceeds held in the law firm's trust account, specifically, asserting that Suggs was withholding consent to disburse that portion of the proceeds belonging to the husband's estate. Suggs moved to dismiss the declaratory-judgment action, arguing the circuit court lacked subject-matter jurisdiction. The circuit court denied the motion. Suggs then filed an answer and a counterclaim, alleging fraud, conversion, embezzlement, breach of the duty of loyalty, and breach of fiduciary duty. Under the facts of this case, the circuit court had subject-matter jurisdiction over the declaratory-judgment action concerning disbursement of the proceeds held in the law firm's trust account. The Alabama Supreme Court affirmed a portion of the summary judgment entered in the declaratory-judgment action, which ordered one-half of the proceeds be disbursed to the husband's estate. Because Suggs filed a counterclaim concerning ownership of certain assets that were clearly within the probate court's jurisdiction, the probate court retained jurisdiction over those estate assets and because the administration of neither estate was removed to the circuit court pursuant to statute, the circuit court's judgments purporting to exercise jurisdiction over those assets were a nullity. That portion of the summary judgment concerning the proceeds from certain assets was vacated. View "Suggs v. Gray" on Justia Law