Estate of Pepper v. Whitehead, No. 13-3066 (8th Cir. 2015)Annotate this Case
Pepper, who suffered from cerebral palsy, owned an extensive collection of Elvis Presley memorabilia as a result of his friendship with Elvis. When he moved into a nursing home in 1978, he told Nancy to “keep it.” Nancy, a nurse and a devoted Elvis fan, had cared for Pepper after the death of his father until he went into the nursing home. Nancy was not compensated for her efforts. Gary died two years later. Nancy maintained the collection until 2009, when it sold for $250,000. The estates of Pepper and his mother sued, alleging that Pepper retained ownership of the collection and that his interest passed to his heirs. A jury found that Pepper had made a conditional gift to Nancy; when he died, Nancy’s ownership was no longer subject to that reversionary interest. The Eighth Circuit affirmed. The jurors heard testimony about the care Nancy provided, read notes that Pepper wrote to Nancy, and saw photographs of the two spending time together. Nancy explained how important the Collection was to Pepper. Pepper’s relatives, who lived in California and were not Elvis fans, testified that Gary did not even tell them about the Collection.