FROM THE BENTON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO 04CV-18-1095]
HONORABLE XOLLIE DUNCAN, JUDGE.
McDermott, for appellants.
Stephen Lee Wood, P.A., by: Stephen Lee Wood, for appellee.
J. GLADWIN, JUDGE.
McDermott appeals the Benton County Circuit Court's
orders sanctioning him under Rule 11 of the Arkansas Rules of
Civil Procedure (2018) and denying his motion for recusal. On
appeal, McDermott contends that the circuit court abused its
discretion. We affirm.
attorney for Angela Blevins, filed suit on her behalf
alleging breach of fiduciary duty and conversion against
James M. Cline, Angela's stepfather. James was married to
Angela's mother, Susan Cline, who died on February 4,
2017. In her will, Susan left her estate to the James M.
Cline and Susan E. Cline Trust (the Trust), which was
established by a "Revocable Trust Agreement"
between James and Susan.
Trust was established for the management of the couple's
estate during their lifetimes and for the distribution of
their estate upon the death of the survivor of them, and the
Trust contains all their real and personal property. The
Trust provides that (1) Susan and James are the
"settlors" and the "trustees"; (2) the
term "settlors" includes the surviving settlor; (3)
the survivor of them would serve as the trustee; and (4) if
either were unable to serve as trustee, a successor trustee
is named. The Trust names Angela and her children, among
others, as residual beneficiaries upon the death of the
7 of the Trust provides in part:
7. Settlors' Rights to Amend or to Revoke Trust: The
settlors may, by signed and dated instruments delivered to
trustees during settlors' lives:
A. Withdraw property from this trust in any amount or and at
any time upon giving at least one business day's notice
in the event of a withdrawal less than the amount of the
entire trust assets or at least five business days'
notice in the event of a revocation of the trust prior to the
B. Add other property to this trust.
C. Revoke or amend any term of this agreement in its entirety
by giving written notice of the revocation or amendment to
may waive any notice requirement imposed by this section.
filed an affidavit for collection of a small estate in the
circuit court after Susan died. Angela filed a competing
petition for appointment of administrator of her mother's
estate. During their litigation in the circuit court,
Angela's attorney deposed James, who testified that he
and Susan had similarly drafted wills that devised their
assets to their Trust. The circuit court denied Angela's
petition, and she did not appeal.
Angela filed a new case against James in the circuit court
and alleged that the Trust had become irrevocable when Susan
died and that it could be amended only for Angela's
benefit. She claimed that James, as the trustee, owed her a
fiduciary duty and that he had breached that duty. The
complaint alleged that James breached his fiduciary duty as
a. undisputedly lied to Angela about the contents of her
b. undisputedly lied to Angela about the contents of the
c. undisputedly had his attorney lie to Angela about her