Breslin v. BreslinAnnotate this Case
A party receiving notice who fails to participate in court-ordered mediation is bound by the result. Plaintiff, the trustee of decedent's trust, petitioned the probate court to determine the trust beneficiaries. After the probate court ordered the matter to mediation, the potential beneficiaries received notice of the mediation, but some did not participate. The participating parties subsequently reached a settlement that excluded the nonparticipating parties as beneficiaries, and the probate court approved the settlement. In this appeal, the nonparticipating parties challenged the probate court's approval of the settlement.
The Court of Appeal held that, by failing to participate in the mediation, the Pacific parties waived their right to an evidentiary hearing. Furthermore, the Pacific parties were not entitled to a determination of factual issues, such as the decedent's intent, and cannot raise such issues for the first time on appeal. The court rejected the Pacific parties' contention that the trustee failed in his duty to deal impartially with all beneficiaries where the Pacific parties' failure to participate was not the fault of the trustee. The court also rejected the Pacific parties' contention that the trustee breached fiduciary duties and failed to keep them reasonably informed. Finally, the court concluded that there was no extrinsic fraud, and that the probate court should decide the issue of attorney fees. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment order.