Hill v. Washburne, No. 18-11633 (5th Cir. 2020)Annotate this Case
This appeal arose out of disputes related to trusts formed by the late Texas oil baron, H.L. Hunt. At issue was the settlement involving plaintiff, H.L.'s grandson, in which he agreed to not contest the last will and testament of his father in exchange for a nine-figure payout. After his father's death, plaintiff challenged the will in Texas probate court, lost, and appealed. Plaintiff's sisters then asked the federal court to enforce the settlement agreement and to enjoin plaintiff's will challenges, which the district court granted.
The Fifth Circuit held that plaintiff's appeal of the injunction was mostly moot, because the Texas appeals court has lost jurisdiction over plaintiff's state appeal and plaintiff has withdrawn his failed will challenges in the probate court. In this case, the terms of the injunction related to those probate proceedings have been irrevocably fulfilled. However, in regard to the terms of the injunction that prohibit plaintiff from challenging his father's will ever again, those terms were not moot. As to those terms, the court held that plaintiff's challenges failed.
Accordingly, the court dismissed the appeal as to the following, already-fulfilled terms of the injunction: its prohibition on contesting plaintiff's will in the current probate proceedings; its prohibition on appealing the probate court's order regarding the settlement agreement; its prohibition on appealing the probate court's admission of the will; and its obligation to dismiss or withdraw his claims in probate court, including through appeal. The court affirmed the remainder of the order, including the following, future-looking terms of the injunction: its prohibition on contesting plaintiff's will "in any manner," in any court; and its prohibition on "filing, pursuing, or prosecuting any action . . . that violates the terms of the Settlement Agreement or Final Judgment." The court remanded to the district court for consideration of whether the sisters were entitled to additional costs and fees.