The Current Legal Information from the Leadership Team (Oct. 2020)
We want to bring you up to date on where we stand. As the two sides are so far apart the process of mediation is not an option at this time. Chris Nissen, our attorney, has recommended that we go to Probate Court. We would most likely get a much earlier trial date and it would be far less costly.
Chris states: "A petition in Probate Court largely mirrors the declaratory relief claim from our civil case. If we proceed in Probate Court on that claim alone we have a better chance of getting a Judge to issue an order sooner than waiting for the civil lawsuit to go to trial.
There are a number of benefits: (1) the Trust would have to take the lead on filing the petition (less expense for our side). We still have the ability to file briefs and evidence with the probate court, (2) if we get a good decision, the Trust will stand down and not attempt this again. (3) if we get a bad decision, our stipulation with the Trust would allow us to restart the civil lawsuit, and also, that the Trust could not use the probate proceedings as evidence against our claims. So, if we win in probate, we win If we don’t win in probate, we just go back to our lawsuit, (4) probate is a quicker process in general (as well as with the COVID impacts on reopening courts) and we would have a judge knowledgeable in trust law reviewing the matter. (5) we can conserve funds and streamline the process with more limited discovery (and likely no need to spend money on depositions for now)."
The LC met and discussed Chris' option. Given that Probate would be more expedient and much less costly. Given the stipulation that no funds can be transferred from the Trust during this process and that the Judge would tell the trustees exactly how they must administer the Trust and exactly what they can and cannot do. The members of the LC have decided to move forward with his Probate Court recommendation. When we have more information we will send another update.