Posts tagged "0900718"

Bennett v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company (Lawyers Weekly No. 09-007-18)

COMMONWEALTH OF MASSACHUSETTS   SUFFOLK, ss                                                                                             SUPERIOR COURT CIVIL ACTION 2017-0603-BLS1     TINA BENNETT, INDIVIDUALLY and as PERSONAL REPRESENTATIVE of the ESTATE OF DAVID BENNETT   vs.   R.J. REYNOLDS TOBACCO COMPANY, individually and as successor by merger to LORILLARD TOBACCO CO., PHILIP MORRIS USA, INC., and GLOBAL PARTNERS, L.P.     MEMORANDUM OF DECISION AND ORDER ON DEFENDANTS’ MOTION TO DISMISS   In this action the plaintiff, Tina Bennett, alleges claims for wrongful death and civil conspiracy against the defendants[1].  She brings these claims as the Personal Representative of the Estate of David Bennett (David and the Estate).[2]  The defendants have moved to dismiss the complaint on the grounds that Ms. Bennett was appointed as the personal representative of the Estate under G.L. c. 190B, § 3-108 (4) of the Uniform Probate Code (UPC or the Code), and an appointment under that provision of the Code does not carry with it the authority to bring either a wrongful death action under G.L. c. 229, § 2 or a tort claim that belonged to the plaintiff’s decedent at the time of his death and had become an asset of the estate. [3]   BACKGROUND FACTS The following facts are taken from the allegations of the plaintiff’s amended complaint, her petition for appointment as the personal representative of David’s estate (the Petition), and the Decree and Order on Petition for Late and Limited Formal Testacy and/or Appointment with respect to the Estate issued by the Worcester Probate and Family Court dated July 26 2017. David Bennett died on March 7, 2014.  In the Petition, his residence is listed as 22 Roosevelt Dr., Southbridge, Massachusetts.  Southbridge is a town in Worcester County.  This action was first filed on February 22, 2017, although the plaintiff had not yet filed any process seeking appointment as the personal representative of the Estate by that date.  On May 16, 2017, the plaintiff filed a Petition for Late and Limited Formal Testacy and/or Appointment in the Worcester Probate and Family Court.  On July 26, 2017, that Court issued a decree allowing the Petition and appointing the plaintiff the personal representative of the Estate pursuant to G.L. c. 190B, § 3-108(4).  On August 11, 2017, the plaintiff filed an amended complaint alleging her appointment as the personal representative of the Estate.   DISCUSSION The issue presented by this case is one of first impression, both in Massachusetts and other states that have adopted the UPC:  does a personal representative appointed with the limited authority provided by § 3-108(4) of the UPC have standing to bring tort actions that were the property of the deceased and are an asset of the estate and/or an action for wrongful […]

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Posted by Massachusetts Legal Resources - February 2, 2018 at 9:29 am

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