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Posted by: Landry Butler on Mar 21, 2018

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys 1:

Lee Ortwein, Red Bank, Tennessee, for the appellant, John G. McDougal.

Attorneys 2:

Anna Marie Davenport, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellee, G. Michael Luhowiak.

Judge(s): SUSANO

This appeal involves a successor estate administrator’s attempt to collect his attorney’s fees from a prior administrator. John G. McDougal, the prior administrator, gave his co- administrator, John D. Burnette (Burnette), a check representing the proceeds from the sale of the decedent’s real estate. Instead of depositing the check in a Tennessee bank as instructed, Burnette took the check to Florida and deposited it in a bank account there. Afterward, Burnette refused to communicate or cooperate with McDougal. The trial court held that McDougal breached his fiduciary duty to the estate and beneficiaries, and awarded the successor administrator a judgment of $5,523.28. We hold that the undisputed facts establish no negligence or malfeasance on McDougal’s part that warrant an award of attorney’s fees. Accordingly, we reverse the judgment of the trial court.