Justia Commercial Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Trusts & Estates
Born v. Born
Sharon Born, the cousin of John Born, held two installment promissory notes upon which the inter vivos revocable trust created by John (“the Born Trust”) assets had been pledged as security when John died. When Betty Born, John’s wife, attempted to make payments on the notes, Sharon asserted that the notes were in default because of John’s death, that the entire remaining balances were immediately due and payable under the notes’ acceleration clauses, and that Sharon’s only remedy under the security agreements was to accept all of the Born Trust’s pledged assets in full satisfaction of the note balances. Betty, in her capacity as a Born Trust trustee, brought this injunction and declaratory judgment action against Sharon, challenging Sharon’s right unilaterally to effect an acceptance-of-collateral remedy. The district court granted summary judgment for Sharon and ordered the Born Trust to turn over the collateral to Sharon. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the Born Trust had the right under the promissory notes to pay the accelerated balances due thereon to prevent Sharon’s acceptance of the pledged assets under the security agreement. Remanded. View "Born v. Born" on Justia Law
In the Matter of Charles Rider
The Supreme Court granted a petition for a writ of certiorari to review the decision of the Court of Appeals in "Rider v. Estate of Rider," (713 S.E.2d 643 (Ct. App. 2011)), which applied the common law of agency to hold that certain financial assets were part of the decedent's probate estate. The decedent had directed his bank to transfer specified assets in his investment account to a new account for his spouse, but died before all of the assets were credited to the account. The issue in this case was one of first impression for the Supreme Court, and after review of the facts, the Court reversed the appellate court: "[o]nce Husband issued the entitlement order and was the appropriate person, Wachovia was obligated by the UCC and the parties' Account Agreement to obey his directive. Wachovia had set up a new investment account in Wife's name and commenced the transfer of securities within a few days of Husband's request, so at that point, Wife already had a recognizable interest, even though Wachovia had not posted all of the securities to her account. The Court of Appeals, in focusing solely on the date of the 'book entry,' which it took to mean the date the securities were credited or posted to Wife's account, seemed to view this as the exclusive means for obtaining an interest in the securities." View "In the Matter of Charles Rider" on Justia Law
RBC Capital Markets, LLC v. Education Loan Trust IV, et al.
This case involved a suit by a holder of auction rate notes issued under an Indenture of Trust and certain "Supplemental Indentures" thereto, against the issuer of the notes, and the trust. Plaintiff claimed that the issuer caused the trust to pay millions of dollars in excessive fees to the issuer and an affiliate of the issuer in breach of limits on those fees set forth in the Supplemental Indentures. The court held that because plaintiff had not pled that it had met any of the conditions precedent to suit required by the no-action clause, the court dismissed plaintiff's claims. View "RBC Capital Markets, LLC v. Education Loan Trust IV, et al." on Justia Law
In re Estate of Graves
Decedent, as CEO of Corporation, purchased a cell phone retail outlet from Creditor for which Creditor accepted a promissory note from Corporation. Decedent signed the note as personal guarantor but died before completing payments. Two related legal actions followed: a California civil suit and this Wyoming probate action. Creditor filed a breach of contract action in California and a timely claim with Decedent's Estate in the Wyoming action. Creditor, however, failed to bring suit within thirty days after the date the Estate mailed a notice of rejection of the claim as required by Wyo. Stat. Ann. 2-7-718. Creditor then added the Estate as a defendant in the California action. In Wyoming, the probate court ruled that Creditor had not complied with section 2-7-718, that the Estate was not added to the California lawsuit until after the filing window had closed, and that Creditor should not receive equitable relief from strict application of the statute. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err when it declined to provide Creditor equitable relief under Wyo. Stat. Ann. 2-7-703(c) from application of the statute of limitations found in section 2-7-718. View "In re Estate of Graves" on Justia Law
Nat’l Bank of Ark. v. River Crossing Partners, LLC
Appellant bank sued Appellees, a corporation and its members, after loans granted to Appellees went into default and Appellees transferred certain property into a trust. After a jury rendered its verdicts, the circuit court (1) granted foreclosure against the property securing the debts, (2) dismissed Appellant's claim to avoid the transfer of one of the properties in the trust and ruled that the deed of another property in the trust was void, and (3) denied Appellant's various post-trial motions. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded on direct appeal and affirmed on cross-appeal, holding (1) the circuit court erred in submitting Appellant's foreclosure and fraudulent-transfer claims to the jury because they were equitable in nature; and (2) the circuit court properly granted Appellant's motion for a directed verdict on Appellee's abuse-of-process claim. Remanded. View "Nat'l Bank of Ark. v. River Crossing Partners, LLC" on Justia Law
HVT, Inc. v. Law
Plaintiff HVC Inc. was a trustee of the Honda Lease Trust. During the audit period at issue, several car dealerships entered into thousands of leases with customers (lessees) pursuant to lease plan agreements between the dealerships, the trust, and the servicer of the trust. Under the leases, the lessees were responsible for submitting the vehicle registration renewal application and renewal fees to the department of motor vehicles on behalf of the trust. Upon receipt of the renewal application and fee, the department sent the vehicle registration card to the trust, and the trust forwarded the vehicle registration card to the appropriate lessee. After conducting a sales and use tax audit for the audit period from April 1, 2001 through October 31, 2004, Defendant Pamela Law, the then commissioner of revenue services, issued a deficiency assessment against Plaintiff, concluding that the renewal fees constituted taxable gross receipts of the trust and, therefore, were subject to the sales tax. The trial court rendered summary judgment partially in favor of Defendant. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the renewal fees paid by the lessess qualified as Plaintiff's gross receipts subject to sales tax under Conn. Gen. Stat. 12-408(1). View "HVT, Inc. v. Law" on Justia Law
Michael E. Siska Revocable Trust v. Milestone Dev., L.L.C.
A limited liability company (MIC) was formed for the purpose of building and operating a hotel. The original members of MIC were a revocable trust (the Trust), trustee Michael Siska, and Thomas, Jane, and Jason Dowdy. Later, Thomas and Jane Dowdy transferred, without the Trust's involvement, MIC's assets to Milestone Development, the Dowdy's family company. The Trust filed an amended complaint derivatively on behalf of MIC against Defendants, Milestone and the Dowdys. In its amended complaint, the Trust claimed that the transfer of assets to Milestone was not in the best interests of MIC or its members and alleging, inter alia, breach of fiduciary duty, breach of contract, unlawful distribution, and conversion, and seeking to recover damages. The Trust, however, did not join MIC as a party to the derivative action. The circuit court dismissed the Trust's amended complaint, holding that the Trust lacked standing to maintain the derivative action on behalf of MIC because the Trust could not fairly represent the interests of the Defendant shareholders. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that it would not entertain the appeal on the merits because MIC was a necessary party to the proceeding and had not been joined. Remanded.
Pyper v. Bond
David Pyper hired attorney Justin Bond to represent him in a probate matter. Bond's law firm subsequently sued Pyper to obtain payment of the attorney fees. The district court entered a judgment in favor of the law firm for $10,577. To satisfy the judgment, Bond filed a lien against a house owned by Pyper that was worth approximately $125,000. Bond was the only bidder at the sheriff's sale auctioning Pyper's home and purchased Pyper's home for $329. Pyper later communicated his desire to redeem his property to Dale Dorius, another attorney at the firm, but was unable to speak to Bond after several attempts. After the redemption period expired, the deed to Pyper's home was transferred to Bond. Pyper subsequently filed a petition seeking to set aside the sheriff's sale of his property. The district court set aside the sheriff's sale. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding the court of appeals did not err in (1) concluding that gross inadequacy of price together with slight circumstances of unfairness may justify setting aside a sheriff's sale and (2) affirming the district court's conclusion that Bond and Dorius's conduct created, at least, slight circumstances of unfairness.