FROM THE BENTON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO 04CV-18-1095],
HONORABLE XOLLIE DUNCAN, JUDGE
McDermott, Fayetteville, for appellants.
Lee Wood, P.A., Rogers, by: Stephen Lee Wood, for appellee.
J. GLADWIN, Judge
McDermott appeals the Benton County Circuit Courts 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.
McDermott, attorney for Angela Blevins, filed suit on her
behalf alleging breach of fiduciary duty and conversion
against James M. Cline, Angelas stepfather. James was
married to Angelas 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 couples
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
Paragraph 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 days 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 withdrawal.
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
Trustees may waive any notice requirement imposed by this
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 mothers
estate. During their litigation in the circuit court,
Angelas attorney deposed James, who testified that he and
Susan had similarly drafted wills that devised their assets
to their Trust. The circuit court denied Angelas petition,
and she did not appeal.
Instead, 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 Angelas
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
rights under the trust;
d. undisputedly filed fraudulent probate pleadings to enable
him to transfer probate assets intended for the trust to be