Articles Posted in Trusts & Estates

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Pangea challenged the district court's order granting in part and denying in part the company's motion for writ of execution upon the proceeds from the sale of a property previously owned by appellees. The Second Circuit certified questions of New York law for which no controlling decisions of the New York Court of Appeals exist: (1) If an entered divorce judgment grants a spouse an interest in real property pursuant to D.R.L. Section 236, and the spouse does not docket the divorce judgment in the county where the property is located, is the spouse's interest subject to attachment by a subsequent judgment creditor that has docketed its judgment and seeks to execute against the property? (2) If the answer to Question (1) is "no," then: If a settlor creates a trust solely for the purpose of holding title to property for the benefit of himself and another beneficiary, and the settlor retains the unfettered right to revoke the trust, does the settlor remain the absolute owner of the trust property relative to his creditors, or is the trust property conveyed to the beneficiaries? View "Pangea Capital Management, LLC v. Lakian" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), seeking to recover the loss of the inheritance she would have received from her mother's estate if not for her brother's fraudulent schemes, and the approximately $200,000 in legal expenses that she incurred in the course of Connecticut state court proceedings in which she sought to remove her brother as executor. The district court dismissed the complaint for failure to state a claim and declined to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the related state law claims. The Second Circuit vacated and remanded, holding that plaintiff's claim for distribution of her inheritance and that of her mother's estate was not ripe under RICO because the Estate was not closed and the amount of the lost inheritance was too speculative; her claim under RICO for legal expenses incurred in pursuing her grievances against her brother and other defendants was ripe; she plausibly alleged that her legal expense injuries were proximately caused by defendants' RICO violations; she adequately pleaded that her brother, and Defendant Garvey, and Red Knot violated 18 U.S.C. 1962(b); and she adequately pleaded that all six defendants violated 18 U.S.C. 1962(c). View "D'Addario v. D'Addario" on Justia Law

Posted in: Trusts & Estates

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This appeal involved an intra‐family dispute over who owns a residential house. The Second Circuit held that the district court properly granted defendants' motion for summary judgment on the pleadings with respect to plaintiffs' adverse possession claim where the affirmative complaint did not contain any affirmative facts that plaintiffs did anything that constituted a distinct assertion of a right hostile to defendants. However, with regard to the constructive trust claim, the court held that there may be a genuine dispute of material fact as to whether an implied promise was made and as to whether defendants' refusal to honor this promise unjustly enriched them. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, vacated in part, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Jaffer v. Hirji" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit held that it need not decide whether the presence of the same person, in two different capacities, on both sides of a case caption, defeats diversity because the challenged judgment here rests on a misapprehension as to the particular irrevocable trusts named as plaintiffs. In this case, the four party trusts have no distinct juridical identity allowing them to sue or be sued in their own names; each was a traditional trust, establishing a mere fiduciary relationship and, as such, incapable of suing or being sued in its own name; because the party trusts can only sue or be sued in the names of their trustees, pleadings in the names of the trusts themselves do not require that these parties' citizenship, for purposes of diversity, be determined by reference to all their members; rather, these traditional trusts' citizenship was that of their respective trustees; because trustee Roland Loubier's Canadian citizenship is only suggested, not demonstrated, in the record, further inquiry was required on remand conclusively to determine diversity. Accordingly, the court vacated and remanded. View "Raymond Loubier Irrevocable Trust v. Loubier" on Justia Law

Posted in: Trusts & Estates

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This case concerns a lease and a purported joint venture agreement entered into between defendant and his now-deceased father, the former president and majority shareholder of a real estate development corporation. The lease granted defendant control over a multi-million-dollar property for a period of 20 years in exchange for a payment of $20. AHC sought damages for defendant's use and occupancy of the property and a judgment declaring the lease and joint venture agreement void. Defendant counterclaimed. The district court granted AHC’s motion for partial summary judgment on its declaratory judgment claims and denied defendant's requests for additional discovery. The court concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying defendant's FRCP 56(d) motion seeking more discovery materials where none of the items defendant specifically requested is germane to the issues before the court; the court applied Pennsylvania law to its analysis of the joint‐venture dispute and New York law to the lease dispute; and the district court correctly concluded that the business judgment rule should not apply to the lease and thus the lease was void as a gift or act of corporate waste. As to the joint venture agreement, the court declined to certify the issue of parol evidence to the state court. The court concluded that the parol evidence rule applies in this case and that the integration clause in the lease retains its preclusive effect. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Alphonse Hotel Corp. v. Tran" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit against defendants, contending that they were entitled to Frederica Thea's Trust's assets and seeking declaratory and equitable relief. On appeal, plaintiffs challenged the district court's denial of their motion seeking leave to file a second amended complaint. The court affirmed the district court's conclusion that the claims alleged in the proposed second amended complaint would not withstand a motion to dismiss. In this case, plaintiffs lacked standing to sue in their individual capacities. Further, a California statute with a one-year statute of limitations applies to plaintiffs claims and, while the district court did not apply the statute of limitations to plaintiffs' individual claims, all of plaintiffs' claims on behalf of the estate are time-barred. View "Thea v. Kleinhandler" on Justia Law

Posted in: Trusts & Estates

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Reverend Flesher participated in benefits plans administered by the Ministers and Missionaries Benefit Board (MMBB), a New York not‐for‐profit corporation. Flesher entered into the plans while married to Snow. Snow, also a reverend and MMBB policyholder, was listed as the primary beneficiary on both of Flesher’s plans. Snow’s father was the contingent beneficiary. When Flesher and Snow divorced in 2008 they signed a Marital Settlement Agreement; each agreed to relinquish rights to inherit from the other and was allowed to change the beneficiaries on their respective MMBB plans. Flesher, then domiciled in Colorado, died in 2011 without changing his beneficiaries. MMBB , unable to determine how to distribute the funds, and filed an interpleader suit. The district court discharged MMBB from liability, applied New York law, and held that Flesher’s estate was entitled to the funds. The Second Circuit certified to the New York Court of Appeals the question: whether a governing‐law provision that states that the contract will be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of New York, in a contract not consummated pursuant to New York General Obligations Law 5‐1401, requires the application of New York Estates, Powers & Trusts Law 3‐5.1(b)(2), which may, in turn, require application of the law of another state. View "Ministers & Missionaries Benefit Bd. v. Snow" on Justia Law

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The Trustee for the Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC (BLMIS) under the Securities Investor Protection Act (SIPA), 15 U.S.C. 78aaa et seq., filed suit against hundreds of BLMIS customers who withdrew more from their accounts than they had invested and profited from Madoff's scheme. Defendants moved to dismiss the actions on the ground that the payments received by BLMIS customers were securities-related payments that cannot be avoided under 11 U.S.C. 546(e). Section 546(e) establishes an important exception to a trustee's clawback powers and provides that certain securities-related payments, such as transfers made by a stockbroker in connection with a securities contract, or settlement payments cannot be avoided in bankruptcy. The court affirmed the district court's conclusion that the payments were shielded by section 546(e) and dismissal of the relevant claims under Rule 12(b)(6). View "In re: Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs appealed the district court's dismissal of their claims against four trusts to which their loans and mortgages were assigned in transactions involving the mortgagee bank, and against those trusts' trustee. The district court granted defendants' motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, finding that plaintiffs were neither parties to nor third-party beneficiaries of the assignment agreements and therefore lacked standing to pursue the claims. It is undisputed that in 2009 or 2010, each plaintiff was declared to be in default of his mortgage, and foreclosure proceedings were instituted in connection with the institution of said foreclosure proceedings, the trustee claimed to own each of plaintiff's mortgage and that plaintiffs are not seeking to enjoin foreclosure proceedings. Assuming that these concessions have not rendered plaintiffs' claims moot, the court affirmed the district court's ruling that plaintiffs lacked standing to pursue their challenges to defendants' ownership of the loans and entitlement to payments. Plaintiffs neither established constitutional nor prudential standing to pursue the claims they asserted. View "Rajamin v. Deutsche Bank Nat'l Trust Co." on Justia Law

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Asarco appealed from the district court's dismissal of its Second Amended Complaint. As part of its Chapter 11 bankruptcy, the bankruptcy court approved two settlement agreements related to the environmental contamination of the Everett Smelter and the Monte Cristo Mining area in Washington State. Asarco paid the United States as a result of those settlements and the Port of Everett $50.2 million for costs related to the remediation of the sites. Asarco then sought contribution, directly and as a purported subrogee, from the Trustees of the residuary trust created by the will of John D. Rockefeller Sr. in 1937. At issue was whether, in 2014, the Trustees may be made to contribute to cleanup costs of environmental contamination allegedly caused by corporations controlled by Rockefeller in Washington State between 1892 and 1903. Assuming arguendo that New York law permitted the imposition of liability on testamentary beneficiaries in this instance, the court concluded that the district court properly dismissed Asarco's contribution claims because they were barred by the applicable three-year statute of limitations, and its subrogation claims because Asarco was not a subrogee. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "Asarco LLC v. Goodwin" on Justia Law