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Prins v. Michaeles

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

May 17, 2016

HARRY DE PRINS, Plaintiff
v.
MICHAEL J. MICHAELES, Personal Representative of the Estate of Donald Belanger and Trustee of The Donald Belanger Irrevocable Trust and THE DONALD BELANGER IRREVOCABLE TRUST DATED October 28, 2008, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OF DECISION AND ORDER ON DEFENDANTS’ MOTION TO DISMISS FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT, WITH PREJUDICE AND TO PRECLUDE FURTHER AMENDMENTS TO COMPLAINT

          TIMOTHY S. HILLMAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Introduction

         Plaintiff Harry De Prins (“Plaintiff” or “De Prins”) asserts claims against Defendants Michael J. Michaeles, as Personal Representative of the Estate of Donald Belanger and as Trustee of the Donald Belanger Irrevocable Trust, and the Donald Belanger Irrevocable Trust Dated October 28, 2008 (collectively, the “Defendants”) for action on a judgment, breach of fiduciary duty and an action to reach and apply interest in a trust. This Order addresses Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim (Docket No. 46). For the reasons set forth below, Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss is granted.

         Plaintiff originally filed this action on November 28, 2014 in the United States District Court for the District of Arizona. The Defendants were subsequently served four months later, on March 27, 2015, and filed a motion to dismiss the complaint for lack of jurisdiction, or in the alternative, to transfer the case to the United States District Court of Massachusetts. The case was transferred from Arizona Federal Court to this Court on June 29, 2015.

         Statement of Facts

         The following facts are taken from Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint (the “Complaint”) (Docket No. 28). The Trustee, a Massachusetts attorney, began representing Donald Belanger in 1994, in connection with a workplace sexual harassment suit filed in Worcester Superior Court. Following a jury verdict in Belanger’s favor, Belanger moved from Worcester to Arizona in 2000. In 2007, Belanger got into a water rights dispute with his neighbors, Plaintiff’s parents, Simonne De Prins and Armand De Prins, and later moved to California. On October 4, 2008, Belanger’s wife committed suicide while they were residing in California. Approximately a week after Belanger’s wife’s death, Belanger called Michaeles requesting that he prepare an irrevocable trust for him. Michaeles prepared the Donald A. Belanger Irrevocable Trust Dated October 28, 2008. Belanger signed the Trust on November 3, 2008. That Trust names Michaeles as the sole Trustee.

         On March 2, 2009, Belanger waited in the parking lot of the Walmart store in Show Low, Arizona for the Plaintiff’s parents who were shopping there. While they were loading their vehicle, Belanger approached and repeatedly shot and killed both of them. The following day, March 3, 2009, Belanger committed suicide. Plaintiff is the son and only surviving heir of the De Prins.

         History of the Litigation

         On or about December 24, 2010, Plaintiff filed an action with Superior Court of Navajo County, Arizona (Arizona Court of Navajo County, Arizona action, Case No. PB2010-00048) (“the Probate Action”), to remove Michaeles as Executor under Belanger’s will. After trial, the motion to remove Michaeles as Executor was denied by order dated March 1, 2012. Plaintiff brought a wrongful death action against, amongst others, Defendant Michaeles, as Personal Representative of the Estate of Donald Belanger, on or around June 1, 2010 in the Navajo County Superior Court for the State of Arizona, Docket No. CV2010-000299 (the “Wrongful Death Action”). On July 26, 2010, the Wrongful Death Action was removed to the United States District Court from the District of Arizona, Docket No. 3:10-cv-08133-DKD. In June of 2011, Defendant Michaeles, acting as the Personal Representative of the Estate of Donald Belanger, denied the Plaintiff’s claim against the Estate on the basis that the “validity and the amount” of Plaintiff’s claim were to be determined in the Wrongful Death Case. By order dated July 29, 2011, the Court granted summary judgment dismissing all claims against Belanger’s daughter and her husband.

         In June of 2015, Harry De Prins, as Creditor in the probate action against the Estate and Plaintiff in both the Wrongful Death Action and the present action, entered into a stipulation in open court with Michael J. Michaeles, as the Personal Representative of the Estate in the Probate Action and the Wrongful Death Action, and as Defendant and Defendant Trustee in the present action. In that stipulation, the parties agreed that:

(1) Plaintiff’s claim against the Estate shall be settled by entry of an agreement for judgment for the Plaintiff against the Estate in the amount of $750, 000 in the Wrongful Death Action (10-cv-08133-DKD, doc. no. 73);
(2) collection of the judgment will be exclusively against the Trust in the enforcement action; and,
(3) the enforcement action, which was originally filed in the District of Arizona (14-cv-08230), would be transferred to the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts (Worcester)(15-cv-40093-TSH, doc. no. 21); and,
(4) the Probate Action in Arizona Superior Court would be closed (hereinafter the “Stipulation”).

See Order of the Navajo County Superior Court in the Probate Action, Ex. 1 to the First Amended Complaint (Docket No. 45).

         In accordance with that Stipulation and Order, the parties filed a Joint Motion for Entry of Judgment in favor of the Plaintiff and against the Estate, in the amount of $750, 000 in the Wrongful Death Action on July 8, 2015 (the “Joint Motion”). Pursuant to the Joint Motion, the District Court for the District of Arizona entered a final judgment in the Wrongful Death Action ...


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