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Succession of Adams

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Second Circuit

June 26, 2019

SUCCESSION OF JACOB BURG ADAMS

          Appealed from the First Judicial District Court for the Parish of Caddo, Louisiana Trial Court No. 599722. Honorable Michael A. Pitman, Judge

          CARL HENRY FRANKLIN Counsel for Appellant, Diane Peoples, Legatee

          LAW OFFICES OF MICHAEL G. CALOGERO By: Michael G. Calogero BODENHEIMER, JONES & SZWAK, LLC By: David A. Szwak Counsel for Appellee, Nancy R. Megas, Independent Executrix of the Succession of Jacob Burg Adams

          Before WILLIAMS, GARRETT, and COX, JJ.

          COX, J.

         This appeal arises from the First Judicial District Court, Caddo Parish, Louisiana. Diane Peoples appeals the district court's judgment granting a motion for summary judgment in favor of Nancy Megas, Independent Executrix of the Succession of Jacob Burg Adams, and holding that wrongful death and survival claims are outside the scope of succession assets. For the following reasons, we affirm the district court's judgment.

         FACTS

         Jacob Burg Adams died on August 18, 2016, while residing at the Bradford Rehabilitation Center/Senior Care Center ("Bradford") in Shreveport, Louisiana. Prior to his death, Mr. Adams contracted asbestosis and mesothelioma and filed a petition seeking to recover damages related to his illness.[1] Mr. Adams left a last will and testament dated June 2, 2016. The disputed portion of his will reads as follows:

I give all my rights, title and interest in the claim being handled by The Lanier Law Firm, should the claim be pending at my death in the following percentages: my sister Nancy Megas, 20%; my nephew Dan Bennett 50%; and, Diane Peoples, 30%. …
If said claim has been liquidated as of the date of my death, I give all of the remaining proceeds in the following percentages: Nancy Megas, 20%, Dan Bennett, 50% and Diane Peoples, 30%.

         He left the remainder of his estate to his sister, Ms. Megas, and his nephew, Mr. Bennett, in equal portions. This remainder of his estate is not in dispute.

         On March 30, 2017, Ms. Megas filed a petition to probate Mr. Adams's will and for appointment as independent executrix, and the order appointing her as such was signed by the district court on the same day. On February 28, 2018, Ms. Megas, as independent executrix, filed a petition to strike and nullify legacy. She claimed that Mr. Adams's June 2, 2016 will, which included a legacy to Ms. Peoples, was executed four months after his previous last will and testament, which did not include a legacy to Peoples.

         Ms. Megas stated that Ms. Peoples was employed at the Bradford when Mr. Adams arrived there, and she was assigned to care for him. She claimed that based on Ms. Peoples's duties, she had more access to Mr. Adams than his family. She alleged that Ms. Peoples exercised an "extreme degree of control and influence over [Mr. Adams] in an effort to alienate [him] from his relatives[.]" The petition requested the court declare the purported legacy to Ms. Peoples to be a nullity.

         After Mr. Adams's death, his mesothelioma lawsuit was amended, and wrongful death and survival damage claims were asserted by ...


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