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Prins v. Michaeles

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

February 15, 2017

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 SECOND AMENDED COMPLAINT

          Timothy S. Hillman United States District Judge.

         Introduction

         Plaintiff Harry De Prins (“Plaintiff” or “De Prins”) asserts a single claim against Defendants Michael J. Michaeles, as 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 (collectively, the “Defendants”) for action to reach and apply interest in a trust after a judgment. This Order addresses Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Second Amended Complaint (Docket No. 60). For the reasons set forth below, Defendants' Motion to Dismiss is denied.

         Procedural and Factual History

         This case is an action to reach and apply the assets of the Trust in satisfaction of a judgment. The underlying action in which the judgment was entered was a wrongful death and negligence action brought by the Plaintiff against the Defendant, Michael J. Michaeles, as Personal Representative of the Estate of Donald Belanger (the “Estate”), among others, arising out of the murder by decedent Donald Belanger (“Belanger”) of the Plaintiff's parents. On a motion to dismiss under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), the Court “must assume the truth of all well-plead[ed] facts and give the plaintiff the benefit of all reasonable inferences therefrom.” Ruiz v. Bally Total Fitness Holding Corp., 496 F.3d 1, 5 (1st Cir. 2007) (citing Rogan v. Menino, 175 F.3d 75, 77 (1st Cir. 1999).

         The following facts are taken from Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint (“SAC”). See Second Amended Complaint, Docket No. 59. Belanger believed that the Plaintiff's parents, Armand and Simonne De Prins (“De Prins”), were responsible for his wife's suicide stemming from a prior dispute between which was resolved through intense and expensive litigation. That litigation resulted in a monetary judgment against the Belangers. In October of 2008, Belanger's wife, Ellen Belanger committed suicide. The following week, Belanger called the Defendant Michaeles requesting that he prepare an irrevocable trust for Belanger. In late October or early November 2008, Belanger executed the Trust. See SAC, Docket No. 59, Attachment 1(as Exhibit A). Belanger subsequently transferred his investment assets (approximately $460, 000) and all of his cash (approximately $225, 000) to Defendant Michaeles, as Trustee of the Trust. Plaintiff alleges that transferring substantially all of his assets into the Trust effectively left Belanger insolvent, although the terms of the Trust provided that Defendant, as Trustee, could pay out funds to Belanger.

         For a period of six months from October 2008 to March 2009, Belanger followed the parents of the Plaintiff, learning their habits and schedule. On March 2, 2009, Belanger, waited in the parking lot of the Walmart Supercenter store in Show Low, Arizona, while the DePrinses were shopping. While they were loading their vehicle, Belanger approached the DePrinses with a gun and fatally shot them both.

         Following the killings, Belanger began driving. As a highway patrol car signaled for him to pull over on Interstate 25 near Albuquerque, New Mexico, Belanger fatally shot himself the officer approached his car.

         Plaintiff is the son and only surviving heir of Simone and Armand DePrins, deceased. Plaintiff brought a Wrongful Death Case 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. 2010-000299) (the “Wrongful Death Case”). On July 26, 2010, the Wrongful Death Case was removed by one of the defendants in that case to the United States District Court for the District of Arizona (Docket No. 3:10-cv-08133-DKD). In June of 2011, Defendant Michaeles, then 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.

         On September 30, 2014, Defendant Michaeles amended his answer in the Wrongful Death Case, and admitted Belanger's liability in the shooting deaths of Simone and Armand DePrins. Following this admission, Plaintiff filed the present action to collect the judgment against the Trust as a creditor of the Estate from the assets of the Trust.

         In or about June of 2015, Harry DePrins, as Plaintiff in both the Wrongful Death Case and the present action, entered into a Stipulation in open court with Michael J. Michaeles, as the Personal Representative of the Estate in the Wrongful Death Case. 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 Case (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 ...

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