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In re Teresa Kasparbauer Revocable Living Trust

Court of Appeals of Iowa

December 5, 2018

IN THE MATTER OF THE TERESA KASPARBAUER REVOCABLE LIVING TRUST, MARIE EISCHEID, MARGUERITE NIELSEN, TERESA SMITH, ANNETTE FIRKUS, KATHLEEN KASPARBAUER, and MARY SMITH, Defendants-Appellants.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Carroll County, Gary L. McMinimee, Judge.

         The defendants appeal from the district court's grant of partial summary judgment in favor of the plaintiffs. AFFIRMED.

          R. Scott Rhinehart of Rhinehart Law, PC, Sioux City, for appellants.

          James R. VanDyke of Law Office of James R. VanDyke, PC, Carroll, and Aaron W. Ahrendsen of Eich, Werden & Steger, PC, Carroll, for appellees.

          Heard by Danilson, C.J., and Potterfield and Doyle, JJ.

          POTTERFIELD, JUDGE.

         The six named appellants are siblings and beneficiaries of their deceased mother's trust-the Teresa Kasparbauer Revocable Living Trust. In a previous action, three of Teresa Kasparbauer's grandchildren-the children of a seventh sibling, Shirley Kerber-sued the six siblings[1] for a 1/7 share of the trust. The district court awarded them the share, and we affirmed. See Kerber v. Eischeid, No. 15-1249, 2016 WL 1696929, at *10 (Iowa Ct. App. Apr. 27, 2016).

         Our supreme court denied the siblings' request for further review, and procedendo issued. The grandchildren then filed a second action in district court, asking the court to take jurisdiction of the trust, remove siblings Marie and Marguerite as trustee and successor trustee respectively, order an accounting, and stay further distributions or spending of trust assets (unless court approved). The district court granted each of the requests when it granted their motion for partial summary judgment. The trust and siblings then filed this appeal.

         Here, the trust and siblings argue: (1) the trust's due process rights were violated because the trust was not a named party and did not have notice of the first action, (2) the statute of limitations in Iowa Code section 633A.3108 (2017) prevents the grandchildren from bringing the second action, (3) the district court violated the constitutional rights of the trust when it granted the grandchildren's motion for partial summary judgment, and (4) the doctrine of collateral estoppel and res judicata prevents the grandchildren from raising claims against the trust that they initially raised against the siblings in the first action.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings.

         The grandchildren filed the action at issue in this appeal in February 2017. They advised the court they had been declared 1/7 beneficiaries of the Teresa Karparbauer Trust and asked the court to invoke jurisdiction over the trust pursuant to Iowa Code section 633A.6101(1); to order a full accounting of the trust, to require Marie and Marguerite to reimburse the trust all of the assets they spent themselves-including the more than $100, 000 in legal fees paid for the first action; to remove Marie and Marguerite as trustee and successor trustee; and to compel distribution and resolution of the trust, which, by its terms, was meant to be distributed within two years from the date of Teresa's death.

         The siblings and trust responded by filing a motion to dismiss the petition. They asserted that the grandchildren's claims were barred by the statute of limitations in sections 633A.3108 and .3109. They also maintained that collateral estoppel and res judicata barred the grandchildrens' claims, as they "have previously attempted to establish their rights to damages against Marie Eischeid and Marguerite Nielson but failed to prove damages at trial."

         The court set a hearing on the motion to dismiss, and the grandchildren resisted the motion. They argued that they were not challenging the validity of the trust but rather the internal affairs of the trust; they maintained their petition was timely.

         Following the hearing, [2] the district court denied the trust and siblings' motion to dismiss.

         The siblings and trust then filed a motion for summary judgment, making substantially the same arguments as ...


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