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In re Petition for Approval of A Minor Settlement T.V.

Supreme Court of Alaska

March 18, 2016

In the Matter of a Petition for Approval of a Minor Settlement T.V.

Appeal from the Superior Court No. 3AN-13-00171 PR of the State of Alaska, Third Judicial District, Anchorage, Pafrick J. McKay, Judge.

Jack Vinson, pro se. Anchorage, Appellant.

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

OPINION

STOWERS, Justice.

I. INTRODUCTION

T.V., a minor, was struck by a car in 2012. T.V.'s father. Jack Vinson, hired counsel and petitioned the superior court on T.V.'s behalf for approval of insurance settlements related to that accident. Jack advised the court that the funds from the settlements would be placed in a special needs trust administered by the Foundation of the Arc of Anchorage for T.V.'s care. The superior court approved the settlements on the recommendation of a magisfrate judge.

Slightly more than one year after the approval of the petition. Jack filed a motion requesting that the settlement fimds be removed from the trust and returned to him. The magistrate judge overseeing the matter recommended that the superior court deny the motion because the trust was not a party to the minor settlement proceeding, but the court did not rule on the magistrate judge's recommendation. Jack appealed directly to this court, but we remanded to the superior court to review and rule on the magistrate judge's order. A second magistrate judge conducted a hearing and made another recommendation to deny Jack's motion. The superior court approved the denial, and we now review the superior court's order.

We AFFIRM the superior court's denial of Jack's motion to remove the settlement funds from the trust and return them to him.

II. FACTS & PROCEEDINGS

In July 2012 T.V., a minor, was hit by a car and was left paralyzed from the chest down. In January 2013 Jack, represented by attorney Charlie Coe, petitioned the superior court for approval of insurance settlements related to the accident. The petition was assigned to Magistrate Judge John Duggan, acting as probate master, and Superior Court Judge Patrick J. McKay.

Magistrate Judge Duggan held a hearing on the petition in February 2013. At the hearing Coe described the settlements and informed Magistrate Judge Duggan that the proceeds from the settlements would be placed in a special needs trust for T.V.'s benefit. Coe explained that the special needs trust would ensure that the money could be used for T.V.'s benefit while allowing him to maintain his eligibility for Medicaid and other public benefits programs.[1]

Coe later filed documents indicating that the settlement proceeds would be deposited with the Arc of Anchorage's pooled trust, Arctrust II.[2] Arctrust II's purpose is to "promote the Beneficiaries' comfort and happiness, by using the trust property to provide and serve the interests of the Beneficiaries." It is not intended to provide "basic maintenance, support, medical, dental and therapeutic care, or any other appropriate care or service that may be paid for or provided by other sources."

Magistrate Judge Duggan recommended that the superior court approve the petition regarding the settlements, and the superior court did so in mid-February 2013.

Jack apparently became displeased with the Arc's care and management of T.V.'s settlement money. In late February 2014, Jack, proceeding pro se, filed a motion in the probate case requesting that the "A[rc] return all fund[s] with int[erest] to Jack Vinson . . . because the A[rc] has not been in touch or would not give out [T.V.'s] funds when requested." Jack alleged that "[f]amily att[orney] Charlie Coe is on the Board of ...


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