In re Estate of BenjaminAnnotate this Case
After Norman Benjamin, the father of Delmar and Cecil, passed away, Cecil, who was named personal representative in Norman’s will, filed a petition for determination of testacy, for determination of devisees and for settlement and distribution of a testate estate. After a hearing, the probate court entered a decree approving the petition, which designated Norman’s wife, Joyce, as the sole devisee under the will. Delmar filed an action against Cecil and Joyce, alleging that Cecil violated his fiduciary duty by distributing Norman’s tangible personal property by distributing it among Norman’s other children, but not to Delmar. The district court dismissed the complaint, concluding that it lacked subject matter jurisdiction over Delmar’s claim. Subsequently, Delmar filed a petition to reopen probate, alleging that Cecil misrepresented the extent of Norman’s tangible personal property and engaged in self-dealing with regard to this property and that there was newly discovered tangible personal property that needed to be distributed. The district court sua sponte denied Delmar’s petition under principles of res judicata. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that res judicata did not bar Delmar’s fraud and newly discovered tangible personal property claims in this case.