Legal Question in Civil Litigation in Arkansas

Brother is suing my mother

in 2001 my baby brother was killed. My mother sued the company at fault and won a large settlement for all of us. The amout of the settlement was sealed by a federal judge as well. My money was released to me as I was 18, my other brothers part was given to my mother in a check, no stipulations from the judge. She used that money to help buy a house and pay off her car and for other needs for my brother (he was spoiled). Now he is suing her for an amount that is incorrect to what we recieved and further asking that guardianship be removed. However there was never a trust set up for the money or anything. To further complete the mess the attorney representing him represented my mother in another case in 1999. Can my brother sue her over money not placed in a trust and can he use this lawyer? Isn't that grounds for the judge to dismiss it alone? Please advise.

Asked on 3/12/07, 12:37 am

1 Answer from Attorneys

Brandon Moffitt Moffitt & Phillips, PLLC

Re: Brother is suing my mother

Based on the facts you provided, it seems that your mother may be liable to your brother to the extent of the award. Since a claim was asserted on his behalf, he is entitled to the same award you received. You mother cannot appropriate that money for her use (even if it was to buy a home).

Your mom maybe able to reduce the amount owed to your brother if she can prove that she spent the money on his behalf (e.g. paid education expenses, bought clothes, bought HIM a car, etc.) If she cannot, it seems likely that she would have to pay the entire sum (plus interest) because she did not place the money in trust.

Additionally, you have stated that the judge gave your brother's money to your mother "with no stipulations." However, you also mentioned that your brother was "asking that the guardianship be removed." If your mother was made guardian for your brother, SHE HAD A DUTY TO YOUR BROTHER to manage the assets for him until he reached majority. That means that the money had to be spent on him or his care. Again, your mother could not take the assets and spend them on HER behalf.

As for the attorney, I think the ethical rules would keep him from representing your brother. Since this controversy arose from a transaction where he represented your all three of you, in my opinion he has a conflict in this matter.

Of course the outcome of every case is fact specific. I would suggest consulting a qualified attorney in your area for advice based on the facts of your case.

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Answered on 3/12/07, 7:12 pm

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