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.

Beshears v. Wood

United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, Southwestern Division

December 14, 2017

JOHN MICHAEL BESHEARS, Plaintiff,
v.
ANDREW PATRICK WOOD, Defendant.

          ORDER

          ROSEANN A. KETCHMARK, JUDGE.

         Before the Court is Defendant Andrew P. Wood's Motion to Dismiss and suggestions in support. (Docs. 3, 4.) Wood seeks dismissal pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), alleging that Plaintiff's Complaint (doc. 1) fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Plaintiff John H. Beshears filed suggestions in opposition (doc. 10), and Wood filed a reply (doc. 14). Upon review, the motion is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.

         Background

         On September 28, 2016, Beshears initiated an earlier lawsuit in this district against Wood, Case No.: 3:16-cv-05109-RK. Beshears alleged two counts against Wood, who is a licensed attorney in the State of Missouri: legal malpractice and breach of fiduciary duty/constructive fraud. On March 6, 2017, Beshears filed his first amended complaint, alleging the same two counts. On May 3, 2017, this Court dismissed Beshears' action for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. On June 22, 2017, Beshears filed the instant action, again alleging the same two counts against Wood.

         Beshears makes the following allegations in his Complaint. On June 26, 2009, Beshears was injured in an automobile accident, which also resulted in the death of his wife. (Doc. 1 at ¶ 4.) On July 1, 2009, Wood, on behalf of Charles V. Reynolds and Ruth Ann Reynolds (the “Reynolds”), filed a petition for appointment of guardianship of Beshears and conservatorship of the estate of Beshears in the Probate Court of McDonald County, Missouri (the “probate court”). (Id. at ¶¶ 7-10, 20.) On July 7, 2009, the probate court appointed the Reynolds as co-guardians of Beshears and co-conservators of his estate. (Id. at ¶ 10.) On October 3, 2012, Beshears was restored to his full rights and capacities. (Id. at ¶ 12.) At some point prior to Beshears being restored, Beshears retained Jason Higdon to represent him in the probate action. (Id. at p. 18.)

         Prior to the June accident, Wood “had been the personal and professional attorney for [Beshears] and his wife for a number of years, representing them concerning their assets which were the subject of the conservatorship, and continued in that relationship” with him throughout the guardianship and conservatorship of the Reynolds. (Id. at ¶ 13.) In particular, at the time of the accident, Wood was representing Beshears and his wife in case number 07NW-CV02181, Beshears, et al. v. Clark & Sons Constr., in the Circuit Court of Newton County, Missouri, and continued to represent Beshears in that civil case until judgment on July 19, 2012. (Id. at ¶ 14-15.)

         Before the Reynolds' appointment, at Beshears' request while he was in the hospital, Wood agreed to protect Beshears' interests while he was ill. (Id. at ¶ 16.) During the Reynolds' appointment, Beshears sought legal advice from Wood on numerous occasions regarding how to dissolve the guardianship and conservatorship of the Reynolds (id. at ¶ 17); Wood “intended to undertake and in fact did give [Beshears] advice on how to dissolve” the guardianship and conservatorship and further told him Wood would “take care of it” (id.); Wood represented to others that he was Beshears' attorney (id. at ¶ 21); and “Wood had [Beshears] attempt to prepare the annual Report which was due from the Reynolds which could not be done from the records provided by the Reynolds” (id. at ¶ 19). At no time until Wood withdrew as counsel for the Reynolds did Wood advise Beshears he could not discuss the guardianship or conservatorship with Beshears because of any conflict or because he represented the Reynolds. (Id. at ¶ 18.)

         In addition to these allegations, Beshears supports both counts with several factual allegations regarding Wood's actions and/or failure to act in the proceedings before the probate court. (Id. at ¶¶ 25, 30.) Beshears seeks actual damages from Wood for loss of assets, damages to assets, and emotional stress, along with punitive damages.

         Discussion

         A. Legal Standard

         For a pleading to state a claim for relief, it must contain a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief. Horras v. Am. Capital Strategies, Ltd., 729 F.3d 798, 801 (8th Cir. 2013) (citing FED. R. CIV. P. 8(a)(2)). The complaint must contain facts sufficient to state a claim that is plausible on its face. Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).

         B. Count 2 - Breach of Fiduciary Duty/Constructive Fraud

         Wood contends Count 2 should be dismissed for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted because the claim of fiduciary duty is subsumed by the claim for legal malpractice under Missouri law.

         The elements of a legal malpractice action are: (1) an attorney-client relationship; (2) negligence or breach of contract by the attorney; (3) proximate causation of client's damages; and (4) damages to the client. Klemme v. Best, 941 S.W.2d 493, 495 (Mo. en banc 1997). Whether characterized as breach of fiduciary duty or constructive fraud, the elements of such a claim are: (1) an attorney-client relationship; (2) breach of a fiduciary obligation by the attorney; (3) proximate causation; (4) damages to the client; and (5) no other recognized tort encompasses the facts alleged. Id. at 496. If the alleged breach can be characterized as both a breach of the standard of care (legal malpractice based on negligence) and a breach of a fiduciary obligation, then the sole claim ...


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.