Justia Trusts & Estates Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals
Wetzel, III, et al. v. Regions Bank, et al.
The trustee of Cheryl Reagan's bankruptcy estate, and Latta Bachelor, the personal representative of Ronald Reagan's probate estate, appealed from an order of the district court affirming the judgment of the bankrutpcy court in this interpleader and declaratory judgment action filed by Regions Bank. The court held that although Cheryl, acting as executrix, retained control over the assets in Ronald's estate, and she may have improperly exercised that control in her capacity as executrix, her conduct in that capacity did not invalidate the spendthrift provisions. Because the spendthrift provision was enforceable under Arkansas law, Cheryl's interest in the net income from Trust C was subject to a "restriction on... transfer" under "applicable nonbankruptcy law," the section 541(c)(2) of the Bankruptcy Code's exception applied, and Cheryl's interest in the distributions of net income from Trust C was not a part of her bankruptcy estate. Appellants have failed to establish the requisite inducement and detrimental reliance to successfully assert that Cheryl should be estopped from claiming the benefit of the spendthrift trust.
Smith v. Bubak, M.D., et al.
Plaintiff, the personal representative of the estate of Velda Smith, sued defendants for medical malpractice, claiming that defendants negligently failed to transfer Smith to a medical facility where she could have received tissue plasminogen activator("tPA") to treat her stroke. At issue was whether the district court properly excluded evidence of plaintiff's medical expert's testimony and granted summary judgment in favor of defendants. The court affirmed summary judgment and held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in excluding the expert's testimony pursuant to Federal Rule of Evidence 702 where the testimony was predicated on a methodologically flawed and unreliable published medical study ("Zivin Paper").