MIAMI, Fla. January 21, 2016 – The Third District Court of Appeal for the state of Florida last week issued its opinion in support of Heller Waldman’s clients in the case of a daughter who claimed her deceased mother and two siblings defrauded her of her share of the proceeds of three life insurance policies, totaling millions of dollars.
“This is a significant ruling,” said Glen H. Waldman, managing partner of Heller Waldman. “No fraud was committed, no agreements were breached, and no conversion occurred. We are pleased that, in making its ruling, the Third District Court of Appeal has made it quite clear that our clients can proceed without the distraction of a significant claim hanging over their heads.” The parties had waited over 14 months for this ruling.
In 2012, Waldman, partner Eleanor T. Barnett and attorney Michael A. Azre successfully defended the mother’s estate and won a final summary judgment on all claims of fraud, fraud in the inducement, conversion, and breach of contract.
In that case, the plaintiff argued that a trust set up by her father was used to purchase the life insurance policies that were to be paid upon her mother’s death to her and her two siblings. But, as the result of a dispute, her mother canceled the policies without letting the plaintiff know. When her father died, the plaintiff sought her inheritance from a number of trusts and interests in Dialysis Centers nationwide that her father had established. The plaintiff was not receiving information about these assets nor was she allowed to participate in decisions regarding their disposition. As a result, she instituted a number of lawsuits in both Miami-Dade and Broward Counties.
The plaintiff immediately appealed to the 3rd District Court of Appeal.
Using the standard set forth by Columbus Hotel Corp. v. Hotel Management Co., 116 Fla. 464 (Fla. 1934), the appellate court in a 14 page opinion agreed with the Miami-Dade Circuit Court ruling, writing in its ruling, “A plaintiff may not rely on statements made by litigation adversaries to establish fraud claims.” The court felt it unnecessary to review the other three bases for the entry of the judgment in favor of the siblings.