Washington Legal Roundup – Division I
Leonard Smaldino died without a will in 2002. His father, Harry, was his only living heir. One week later, Harry suffered a stroke. Leonard’s girlfriend, Deborah Griswold, began caring for Harry after his stroke.
Harry died in 2004 and left everything to Ms. Griswold in his will. Laurie Smaldino, Harry’s other child, contested the will and alleged undue influence by Ms. Griswold.
Eventually, Ms. Griswold and Laurie reached an agreement under which they would divide the assets of the estate equally.
It soon became apparent that Ms. Griswold had mismanaged the estate. The court ordered her to provide an accounting, which she failed to do. The court held her in contempt for breach of her fiduciary duty as personal representative of the estate.
Laurie’s attorney learned that a property from the estate was being sold to pay her attorney, Howard Todd. Laurie’s attorney, Bruce Moen, obtained a temporary restraining order (TRO) preventing the sale. Mr. Moen served the TRO on Mr. Todd, but he did not review it.
Mr. Todd claimed that because the TRO did not state why the party requesting would be irreparably harmed, it was void. The Court of Appeals disagreed, holding that because of the context of the TRO (Mr. Todd was an interested party), the harm was well known to Mr. Todd.