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Marilyn Fagelson is Chair of the Firm’s Insurance Recovery Practice Group and works principally on complex commercial litigation, insurance coverage on behalf of policyholders, and appellate practice. She has represented policyholders seeking coverage for claims involving a variety of subject areas including asbestos and environmental injuries, legal malpractice, sexual abuse, health care, property damage, products liability, automobile accidents, unfair trade practices and antitrust. Marilyn has secured coverage of defense and indemnity under many types of policies, including commercial general liability, errors and omissions, malpractice, property, homeowners, automobile, health care, title and crime policies.

The Connecticut Supreme Court has issued its decision in the appeal of Lackman v. McAnulty, a case in which two nieces sued their two aunts in a battle over real estate after the death of their grandfather.  The underlying question was whether the “Property” should pass through the grandfather’s revocable trust – in which case the aunts shared in the Property – or whether the property should pass by specific bequest in the grandfather’s will – in which case only the nieces and their father would get the Property. The Supreme Court affirmed the trial court’s ruling that once the grandfather transferred the Property to his trust, he no longer had any interest in the property that he could devise in a will.

The Supreme Court rejected the nieces’ argument that, because the quitclaim deed to the Property from the grandfather to himself “as trustee” was filed on the land records without a document that identified the trustee’s powers, the transfer to the trust was a nullity under Conn. Gen. Stat. § 47-20. Looking at the entire statute, rather than just the first sentence of § 47-20, the Supreme Court concluded that the clear legislative intent was to protect innocent third parties to whom property is conveyed during the grantor’s lifetime.  That statute was inapplicable because there was no second transfer by the grandfather during his lifetime.  Because the transfer of the Property to the trust was valid, the bequest of the Property in the will was ineffective.

In our earlier post about the argument in this case, we noted some questions posed by the Justices that took the parties slightly off the heart of their arguments. Both Justices Eveleigh and McDonald inquired about the importance of evidence of the grandfather’s intent, noting that the will, which was executed after the last amendment to the trust, was the last indication of the grandfather’s intent.  The Justices apparently accepted the nieces’ counsel view that the intent of the grandfather was not germane to the construction of § 47-20, and did not address it in the opinion.

You can read the full opinion here. https://www.jud.ct.gov/external/supapp/Cases/AROcr/CR324/324CR30.pdf

Argument Recap:  Lackman v. McAnulty, SC 19668

On October 14, the Connecticut Supreme Court heard arguments in the appeal of Lackman v. McAnulty, SC 19668, a case in which two nieces sued their two aunts in a battle over real estate from their grandfather’s estate.  The underlying question was whether the “Property” should pass through the grandfather’s revocable trust – in which case the aunts shared in the Property – or whether the property should pass by specific bequest in the grandfather’s will – in which case only the nieces and their father would get the Property.

Continue Reading How is a decedent’s property dispersed: Revocable Trust or Will?

Argument Recap: Disciplinary Counsel v. Laurence Parnoff, SC 19626

 Practice Book § 2-47A requires the disbarment of any lawyer who has knowingly misappropriated a client’s funds.  Last week, the Connecticut Supreme Court heard arguments in the appeal of Disciplinary Counsel v. Laurence Parnoff, in which the Office of the Chief Disciplinary Counsel argued that both the trial court and the Appellate Court got it wrong when they concluded that Attorney Parnoff’s conduct in closing an escrow account and taking those funds for his personal use was merely negligent and not a “knowing misappropriation” of client funds.  No Connecticut appellate court has previously considered the application of Practice Book 2-47A and therefore this case will be the Supreme Court’s first opportunity to rule on what conduct constitutes a knowing misappropriation.

Parnoff Fails To Maintain Disputed Funds In An Escrow Account

Attorney Parnoff represented Darcy Yuille in a claim against her former employer.  In her retainer agreement, Yuille agreed to pay Parnoff a contingency fee of 40% of her recovery if she prevailed on her bad faith claim.  After winning more than $1 million at arbitration, Yuille contested the 40% contingency – $438,413.17 – as being in excess of the fees permitted under Conn. Gen. Stat. §52-251(c).  Yuille also demanded that another attorney, Laura Mooney, who had made an appearance in the bad faith litigation on Yuille’s behalf, be paid out of Parnoff’s share of the award.  In 2004, Yuille agreed that Parnoff could take $125,000 of the judgment and Parnoff agreed to hold the balance of the disputed fee in escrow until the resolution of the dispute.

Continue Reading Court Considers Subjective Standard to Prove “Knowing Misappropriation” of Clients Funds