On November 30, 2017, the Dallas Court of Appeals issued its opinion in the case of Coyle v. Jones. In that case, F+B represented Karen Coyle who is one of 3 daughters of Frances Hutchens. Frances and her husband Stuart created a trust in 1996 and transferred all of their assets into the Trust. They named Karen as the successor trustee when both Frances and Stuart had died. Following Stuart’s death, Frances transferred some of the assets out of the trust but left others in the trust. Her sister, Susan Jones was appointed as the executor of Frances’ estate and argued that Frances had revoked the trust, resulting in all of the assets belonging to Frances’ estate, rather than the Trust. The Trust and Frances’ Will made different dispositions of the assets.
Susan, on behalf of Frances’ estate, sued Karen seeking turnover of all of the Trust assets. At trial, the jury determined that all of the Trust assets should be turned over to Frances estate, despite a provision of the Trust Agreement that said that the Trust could not be revoked or modified following the death of either Stuart or Frances. On appeal, the Court of Appeals agreed with F+B that the Trust could not be revoked because of the express provisions of the Trust Agreement, and the Court agreed that Susan had failed to produce sufficient evidence to establish any wrongdoing on the part of Karen. Accordingly, the Court of Appeals reversed and rendered.
A ruling that reverses and renders the trial court’s judgment is somewhat unusual in that it means that the Court of Appeals did not allow for a retrial of the case but instead found that Karen Coyle should have won at the trial court, and the Court entered a judgment in her favor without allowing the trial court a further opportunity to consider the case.
Attorneys in F+B’s litigation section represented Karen Coyle in the trial, and attorneys in F+B’s appellate section represented Ms. Coyle in the appeal. We are pleased to have reached a good result for Ms. Coyle!