Probate Court has exclusive jurisdiction over claim against Trust and trustees; Circuit Court action is frivolous
Franklin Z. Adell created a Trust to manage his 24 million dollar estate and the corporations he owned, including the Adell Broadcasting Corporation. He died in 2006. His son, Kevin, was named to multiple positions of authority within Adell's Estate and according to his sisters, he mismanaged the Estate and Trust. They sued in Probate Court to secure an alternative fiduciary and for an accounting. After a 17 month investigation, the Court concluded that the sisters' claims were viable and replaced Kevin. He immediately brought a suit in Circuit Court, in the name of two of Adell's corporations, against the Trust and individuals including his sisters. The trial court summarily dismissed the Circuit Court action, concluding that it "related to the administration of" the estate and trust and therefore exclusiver jurisdiction over the matter resided in the Probate Court. The trial judge also held that the Circuit Court action was "frivolous" and awarded sanctions against Kevin. On appeal, the Court of Appeals approved of the lower court's rulings, including the sanctions, even though the lower court had not held an evidentiary hearing to determine the proper amount of the sanctions.