Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Fenstermaker v. PNC Bank, N.A.

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

March 26, 2018

SCOTT L. FENSTERMAKER, Plaintiff,
v.
PNC BANK, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING MOTIONS TO DISMISS AND FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          Jeffrey Alker Meyer United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff Scott Fenstermaker is a lawyer who has been embroiled in conflict with his family for many years. His father-who is still alive-has recently re-written his will and a living trust to disinherit him. Plaintiff thinks he did so because of undue influence by plaintiff's sister and plaintiff's ex-wife. Plaintiff also thinks his father wrote him out of his will because he did not like the fact that plaintiff has represented Guantanamo Bay terrorist defendants and been quoted in the newspaper saying that the terrorist attacks of 9/11 were “deserved” and “one of the greatest events in human history.”

         Plaintiff has now filed this lawsuit against his father, his sister, and a bank solely in its capacity as trustee for his father's inter vivos trust. Defendants have moved to dismiss and for summary judgment. Because plaintiff's father is still living, I will grant their motions in large part on grounds that plaintiff does not yet have an injury-in-fact from his father's re-writing of his will and related trust documents and that his challenge to his father's will and trust is not yet ripe for decision. As to plaintiff's demand that his father and sister pay him $2 million for intentional infliction of emotional distress, I conclude that plaintiff does not allege plausible grounds for relief.

         Background

         The following facts are drawn unless otherwise noted from the amended complaint. Doc. #70. In 2012 plaintiff was serving as the attorney-in-fact and later as the executor of the estate for his uncle. Id. at 8. According to plaintiff, various family members, including his sister, defendant Martha Czymmek, demanded that he illegally transfer money from his uncle's estate to another relative. Id. at 8-9. Czymmek allegedly exerted this pressure in order to “illegally enrich herself.” Id. at 30. These demands allegedly continued until plaintiff retained an attorney and threatened legal action. Id. at 9.

         Plaintiff alleges that Czymmek's anger at his refusal to transfer the funds prompted her to begin a campaign to undermine plaintiff's relationship with their father, defendant Lloyd Fenstermaker, and to interfere with plaintiff's expected inheritance from his father. Id. at 10. Indeed, soon after the 2012 family dispute, Lloyd Fenstermaker removed plaintiff as the executor of his estate and replaced him with Czymmek. Id. at 13. This decision was but the first step in Czymmek's alleged plot to have Lloyd Fenstermaker disinherit plaintiff. Id. at 22-23, 32.

         Over the following several years, Lloyd Fenstermaker's health deteriorated, and Czymmek assumed responsibility to care for her father and manage his affairs. She obtained a general power-of-attorney and has attended to his legal and financial matters. Id. at 13. Her father also appointed her as a healthcare proxy to make health care decisions for him. Ibid. Plaintiff views Czymmek's care for her father as seizing control and part of her “plan to ingratiate herself” in order to exclude plaintiff from their father's will. Id. at 31.

         Plaintiff further faults Czymmek for the fact that he has not communicated with Lloyd Fenstermaker since April 21, 2016, and claims she is still holding their father “incommunicado.Id. at 6.[1] He also alleges that his father's attorney falsely stated that plaintiff's father did not want plaintiff to know his address or whereabouts because plaintiff had made threats against him. Id. at 7. Plaintiff denies that he has made such threats and claims that Czymmek hired the attorney to make this false claim. Ibid.

         In 2016, Lloyd Fenstermaker executed a series of wills that replaced his earlier estate plans. On July 19, 2016, he executed a new will that excluded plaintiff as a beneficiary. Doc. #58-1 at 3, 6-16. This will revoked Lloyd Fenstermaker's earlier will, which had divided his estate into three equal shares between his three children. Under the terms of the new will, Lloyd Fenstermaker's estate would be divided in three equal shares between two of his children, Martha Czymmek and Stephen Fenstermaker, and plaintiff's ex-wife, Linda Fenstermaker. This will was updated on October 5, 2016, to correct a misspelling of Martha Czymmek's last name. Id. at 4, 17-27.

         In October of 2016, Lloyd Fenstermaker fell and fractured his hip. Doc. #70 at 12. He was treated at a facility in Delaware until some point in December of 2016. Ibid. During this time, he received extensive medical treatment and appeared to exhibit diminished cognitive capacity. Ibid.

         After this incident, Lloyd Fenstermaker executed a third will and revocable living (inter vivos) trust on November 23, 2016. Doc. #34 at 3. The third will and trust also excluded plaintiff as a beneficiary. Due to a scrivener's error, Lloyd Fenstermaker executed a corrected will and trust on November 28, 2016. Doc. #70 at 14; Doc. #34 at 4; Doc. #36-1 at 2-4, Doc. #36-2 at 2- 21.

         These updated instruments are the primary subjects of this lawsuit. Under the terms of the updated will, Lloyd Fenstermaker's entire estate, absent personal effects, is to be distributed into the revocable inter vivos trust with defendant PNC Bank, National Association, acting as trustee. According to plaintiff, his father's net worth is about $1.5 million. Doc. #70 at 33 n.12. The terms of the trust provide that it is fully revocable by Lloyd Fenstermaker and that the income from the trust shall be distributed to Lloyd Fenstermaker during his lifetime and then only upon his death shall the trust property be divided in three equal shares for the benefit of Martha Czymmek, Stephen Fenstermaker, and Linda Fenstermaker. Doc. #36-2 at 2, 7-8. Both the updated will and trust explicitly exclude plaintiff as a named beneficiary. Doc. #70 at 14. Plaintiff was provided notice pursuant to Delaware law to bring a legal challenge to the will and trust on January 17, 2017. Id. at 14-15.

         Plaintiff alleges that he has represented a number of alleged terrorist detainees at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. Id. at 18-19. According to plaintiff, his father disinherited him to punish him for his choice to represent these defendants. Id. at 19-21, 25. He claims his father also intended to punish him for taking certain positions as part of his legal defense of alleged terrorists and while running as a candidate for the U.S. Congress. Id. at 21. Such positions include plaintiff's stated view as reported in a New York Daily News article that the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center was “deserved” and “one of the greatest events in human history.” Id. at 20.[2] According to plaintiff, his father's decision to disinherit him as a result of his defense of alleged terrorists and positive view of the 9/11 attacks amounts to a violation of plaintiff's constitutional rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments. Id. at 21, 25-26, 28-29.

         Notwithstanding his allegation that the reason that his father purposefully disinherited him was punishment for his controversial activities and views, plaintiff also alleges that the reason that his father disinherited him is because of the undue influence of Czymmek. He claims that Czymmek is a registered dietician who has been caring for their father as his health has declined. Id. at 23. To this end, Czymmek worked to “cajole” Lloyd Fenstermaker into granting her “control” over his affairs so she could “manipulate and incapacitate” him. Id. at 23-24, 28. She allegedly did this to “punish” plaintiff for his actions in the 2012 family dispute. Id. at 24. Although Czymmek's allocation of her father's estate is the same under both the old and updated wills (a 1/3 share), plaintiff nonetheless alleges that she acted to “alienate” him from his father “in an effort to enrich herself” at plaintiff's expense. Id. at 34.[3]

         Plaintiff further alleges that Lloyd Fenstermaker's decision to disinherit him was improperly influenced by his ex-wife, Linda Fenstermaker. Id. at 16. She is not a defendant in this matter, because plaintiff states he is already pursuing claims against her in another court for various alleged wrongdoings, including undue influence. Ibid. Plaintiff nonetheless accuses his ex-wife at length of committing fraud and unduly influencing Lloyd Fenstermaker's estate planning decisions. He essentially alleges that she told a series of lies in order to obtain an inheritance that plaintiff views as rightfully his. Id. at 16-17.

         On December 10, 2016, Lloyd Fenstermaker moved from Delaware to Connecticut, where Czymmek presently lives. Id. at 11. He remains in poor health, and Czymmek continues to care for him and manage his affairs. According to plaintiff's amended complaint, his father has suffered at least three strokes and remains hospitalized. Id. at 29.

         Plaintiff alleges that the activities of his father and sister have exacerbated his own anxiety condition for which he takes medication.[4]Id. at 33. He alleges that as a result of their actions, he has sought the treatment of a psychiatrist, doubled the dosage of his medication, and been hospitalized several times. Id. at 36-37. Plaintiff reports that he has also been diagnosed with depression and a mood disorder, which he attributes to the actions of his father and sister. Id. at 37. He states in an affidavit that he has received intermittent psychiatric treatment on an out-patient basis since the 1980s. Doc. #53-10 at 8. He also alleges that the actions of his father and sister have directly caused his divorce, strained his ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.