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Moffitt v. Moffitt

Supreme Court of Alaska

August 8, 2014

LINDA R. MOFFITT, as Guardian and Conservator for her Mother, BETTY SCHROEDER-MOFFITT, Successor Trustee of the LEONARD E. MOFFIT FAMILY TRUST, and Successor Trustee of the BETTY SCHROEDER-MOFFITT FAMILY TRUST, Appellant,
v.
TRACY A. MOFFITT and KATHRYN A. MOFFITT, Appellees

Appeal from the Superior Court of the State of Alaska, Third Judicial District, Palmer, Eric Smith, Judge. Superior Court No. 3PA-06-01070CI.

Cynthia L. Ducey and Kendra E. Bowman, Delaney Wiles, Inc., and Peter C. Gamache, Law Offices of Peter C. Gamache, Anchorage, for Appellant.

Chris D. Gronning, Bankston Gronning O'Hara, P.C., Anchorage, for Appellees.

Before: Fabe, Chief Justice, Winfree, Stowers, Maassen, and Bolger, Justices.

OPINION

Page 1103

BOLGER, Justice.

I. INTRODUCTION

Linda Moffitt filed a lawsuit as her mother's guardian and conservator and the successor trustee of her parents' living trusts, seeking to rescind or reform a deed they executed in 1995 and a contract they signed in 1998. The superior court dismissed Linda's claims, reasoning that the statutes of limitations had run before Linda filed her lawsuit in 2005. The primary question in this appeal is whether the superior court properly applied the statutes of limitations. We conclude that Linda's mostly equitable claims are subject to the defense of laches, and the statutes of limitations do not apply to these claims.

II. FACTS AND PROCEEDINGS

In 1992 Leonard and Betty Moffitt created two trusts to provide lifetime support for the surviving spouse, and then to pass the trusts' assets to their children. In 1995 Leonard and Betty agreed to sell their family farm to their son, Tracy, and his wife, Kathy, and deeded part of the property to Tracy and Kathy. In 1998 Leonard and Betty signed a contract memorializing the 1995 agreement and providing that the rest of the farm would be sold to Tracy and Kathy after Leonard and Betty died. Leonard died in 2000 and Betty was diagnosed with dementia in 2001. Their daughter, Linda Moffitt, became personal representative of Leonard's estate, Betty's guardian and conservator, and successor trustee of Leonard's and Betty's trusts.

In 2005 Linda, in her capacity as guardian, conservator, and trustee, brought a civil suit against Tracy and Kathy seeking damages and rescission of the contract. In 2009 Linda filed an amended complaint, adding an alternate request for reformation and containing five counts: conversion, diminished capacity, undue influence, unconscionability, and unjust enrichment. In Leonard's probate proceeding, Linda petitioned the court for the sale of the real property free of contract. The probate court denied the petition. In 2010 Linda moved to consolidate the civil

Page 1104

case with the probate case, but the motion was denied.

The superior court ultimately dismissed part of the civil case on summary judgment, concluding that, although the limitations periods were tolled during Leonard's and Betty's disabilities, Linda's claims were barred by the two-year tort statute of limitations and the three-year contract statute of limitations. The court noted Linda may retain claims for certain profits received by Tracy and Kathy and for repayment of an allegedly unpaid loan, and it denied summary judgment as to those collateral matters. The superior court awarded ...


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