Adams v. West Coast Trust

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Trusts and Estates
  • Date Filed: 10-08-2014
  • Case #: A145158
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Wollheim, P.J. for the Court; Hadlock, J.; & Schuman, S.J.
  • Full Text Opinion

The probate court did not abuse its discretion by declining to reconsider an order approving the sale of mineral rights.

Adams appealed from a probate court judgment approving a final and an amended accounting submitted by West Coast Trust, the personal representative of the decedent's estate. The decedent owned mineral rights to 27 parcels in Columbia County and had leases with NW Natural. Respondent Northwest Natural Gas Company (NW Natural) purchased mineral rights from the estate. Adams assigned error to the probate court's denial of their objection to the final and amended accounting and denial of their petition to surcharge the personal representative for their negligent sale of mineral rights. They also challenged the probate court's rejection of request to set aside the personal representatives sale of the mineral rights or to require NW Natural to disgorge lot money on the theory of unjust enrichment. Lastly, they argued that the probate court erred in determining that NW Natural is not a party to the probate proceedings. Adams contended that West Coast Trust breached its fiduciary duty; specifically, that West Coast Trust allowed the probate proceeding to be orchestrated by, and in collusion with, NW Natural so that NW Natural could acquire the mineral assets and defeat Adams’ rightful inheritance through a commercially unreasonable sale of those assets. Adams’ first and second assignments of errors were dismissed. The Court held evidence did not support a finding that the sale of the mineral rights was commercially unreasonable. The Court found that the third assignment was moot. As to the fourth assignment of error the Court found that, due to the length and complexity, the trial court did not abuse its discretion in allowing extraordinary fees. NW Natural's motion to dismiss dismissed as moot; affirmed.

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