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Fiduciary Trust Co. v. Wheeler

Supreme Judicial Court of Maine

February 4, 2016

FIDUCIARY TRUST CO. et al.
v.
MANCHESTER H. WHEELER JR

         Argued November 3, 2015.

          On the briefs: Michael L. Rair, Esq., Law Offices of Michael L. Rair, Bangor, R. Howard Lake, Esq., Lake & Denison, Winthrop, and John E. Nale, Esq., Nale Law Offices, Waterville, for appellant Manchester H. Wheeler Jr.

         Brendan P. Reilly, Esq., and Tudor N. Goldsmith, Esq. Jensen Baird Gardner & Henry, Portland, for appellee Honora Haynes.

         At oral argument: Michael L. Rair, Esq., for appellant Manchester H. Wheeler Jr.

         Brendan P. Reilly, Esq., for appellee Honora Haynes.

         Panel: SAUFLEY, C.J., and ALEXANDER, MEAD, GORMAN, JABAR, HJELM, and HUMPHREY, JJ.

          OPINION

Page 1179

          MEAD, J.

          [¶1] Manchester H. Wheeler Jr. appeals from a summary judgment entered by the Superior Court (Kennebec County, Mullen, J. ) in favor of Fiduciary Trust Company on Fiduciary's complaint to determine the proper method of distributing the principal of a trust of which Wheeler is a beneficiary. On appeal, Wheeler contends that the Superior Court erred in concluding that the doctrine of res judicata did not control the construction of the disputed term of the trust. We affirm the judgment.

         I. BACKGROUND

          [¶2] The relevant facts in the summary judgment record are undisputed. Fiduciary is the acting trustee of the Elizabeth S. Haynes and Robert H. Gardner Trust, created in 1911 and amended in 1918. Pursuant to paragraph 1 of the trust, the trust's net income was to be paid to Elizabeth S. Haynes's two daughters, Hope Manchester Wheeler and Muriel Sturgis Haynes, or their issue. Paragraph 1 provides:

During the continuance of the trust to pay the net income thereof as often as quarterly to Hope Manchester Wheeler and Muriel Sturgis Haynes in equal shares during their lives, and on the death of either of them who shall leave issue surviving her the share of said income which she would have received shall be paid to such of her issue by right of representation as shall from time to time be living at the respective times of payment and on the death of either of them leaving no issue surviving her as well as in the case of the issue of one of them becoming extinct, the whole of said income shall be paid to the other if living, or if she be dead to such of her issue by right of representation as shall from time to time be living at the respective times of payment.

(Emphasis added.) Thus, upon the death of either of Elizabeth S. Haynes's daughters, the deceased daughter's share of the income would be paid to her " issue."

          [¶3] The death of Hope Manchester Wheeler in 1955 triggered the need to determine to whom her share of the income should be paid. Through the presentation of a bill in equity to the Supreme Judicial Court, Fiduciary petitioned for the Court to determine whether the income should be paid only to Hope Manchester Wheeler's biological son, Manchester H. Wheeler, or whether the income should be ...


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