Holt v. Griffin, No. 16-6226 (6th Cir. 2017)Annotate this Case
John L. Griffin, a long-deceased Kentucky businessman, and his wife, Rosellen, had 12 children. Plaintiffs are four of their daughters. Defendants are two of their sons, the Griffin estate, the Griffin trust, plus an entity they created called Martom Properties. The sisters learned of self-dealing by their brothers and believed that they had been cheated out of stock and real estate that they should have inherited. Plaintiffs filed suit. The district court ordered Defendants to pay roughly $584 million in wrongful profits disgorgement and prejudgment interest to the Plaintiffs. The Sixth Circuit affirmed, first finding that it had subject matter jurisdiction. The probate exception does not apply because Plaintiffs sought an in personam judgment against Defendants, not the probate or annulment of a will and did not “seek to reach a res in the custody of a state court.” Defendants’ conduct in managing the family business and their parents’ estates and trusts violated their fiduciary duties to Plaintiffs under Kentucky law.