Oral Argument Before the Hawaii Supreme Court
No. SCWC-13-0000428, Thursday, May 14, 2015, 11:15 a.m.
In the Matter of the THOMAS H. GENTRY REVOCABLE TRUST
The above-captioned case has been set for argument on the merits at:
Supreme Court Courtroom
Ali`iolani Hale, 2nd Floor
417 South King Street
Honolulu, HI 96813
Attorneys for Petitioner:
Margery S. Bronster and Jae B. Park
Attorneys for Respondents:
Carroll S. Taylor and Alan T. Yoshitake
NOTE: Order accepting Application for Writ of Certiorari, filed 02/18/15.
COURT: MER, CJ; PAN, SSM, RWP, and MDW, JJ.
Petitioner-Appellant Kiana E. Gentry (Gentry) applied for writ of certiorari from the judgment of the Intermediate Court of Appeals (ICA), entered pursuant to its memorandum opinion.
This case arises from a dispute over the distribution of assets from the Thomas H. Gentry Revocable Trust. The beneficiaries and Co-Trustees entered into a settlement agreement, which Gentry alleged the Co-Trustees violated. Gentry filed a petition to enforce the settlement agreement, and the Co-Trustees filed a petition for instructions regarding distribution of the assets. The probate court entered two judgments, one denying Gentry’s petition to enforce (“Enforcement Judgment”) and one granting the Co-Trustees’ petition for instructions (“Distribution Judgment”). Gentry appealed from the Enforcement Judgment, but not the Distribution Judgment.
The ICA held that Gentry’s appeal constituted a collateral attack on the Distribution Judgment. The ICA concluded that reversal of the Enforcement Judgment would be inconsistent with the Distribution Judgment, which the ICA had no jurisdiction to amend because Gentry had not appealed. The ICA held that it could not grant Gentry effective relief, and dismissed the appeal as moot.
In her application, Gentry argues that the ICA erred in applying the collateral attack doctrine, and in relying on the doctrine to find the appeal to be moot. According to Gentry, the settlement agreement can be enforced even if the Distribution Judgment is not amended. Thus, Gentry argues that this court can vacate the Enforcement Judgment and order the probate court to grant her petition to enforce the settlement agreement.
The Co-Trustees argue that the ICA did not err in applying the collateral attack doctrine, and that Gentry’s appeal is moot regardless of whether it is a collateral attack. According to the Co-Trustees, Gentry’s failure to appeal from the Distribution Judgment means the ICA lacked jurisdiction to review the underlying issue, which renders the appeal moot.