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Anderson v. Dussault

Supreme Court of Washington, En Banc

September 4, 2014

Rachel Marguerite Anderson, Petitioner ,
v.
William L.E. Dussault et al., Respondents

Argued June 24, 2014

Reconsideration denied January 9, 2015.

Appeal from Clallam County Superior Court. 11-2-00741-6. Honorable Jay B. Roof.

Catherine Wright Smith and Ian C. Cairns (of Smith Goodfriend, PS ); and Carl L. Gay (of Greenaway Gay & Tulloch ), for petitioner.

William L. Cameron and Sam B. Franklin (of Lee Smart PS Inc. ); Steven Goldstein and Shawna M. Lydon (of Betts Patterson & Mines PS ); and James R. Hennessey and Julia K. Doyle (of Smith & Hennessey PLLC ), for respondents.

AUTHOR: Chief Justice Barbara A. Madsen. WE CONCUR: Justice Charles W. Johnson, Justice Mary E. Fairhurst, Justice Debra L. Stephens, Justice Charles K. Wiggins, Justice Steven C. González, Justice Sheryl Gordon McCloud, Justice Mary I. Yu, Stephen J. Dwyer, Justice Pro Tem.

OPINION

Page 396

Madsen, C.J.

[181 Wn.2d 362] ¶ 1 At issue is whether the superior court's approval of annual accountings of petitioner's special needs trust under the Trustees' Accounting Act (TAA), chapter 11.106 RCW, bars petitioner's current suit, which is timely under the Trust and Estate Dispute Resolution Act (TEDRA), chapter 11.96A RCW. We review a published Court of Appeals decision affirming the summary dismissal of petitioner Rachel Anderson's breach of trust action against the trustee and two members of a committee charged with making trust disbursements, and her malpractice action against the attorney hired to file annual [181 Wn.2d 363] trust accountings with the superior court. We hold that because Rachel was not represented by a guardian ad litem when the court approved the trust's annual accountings, she did not have notice of these proceedings and accordingly can now bring a breach of trust action under TEDRA. We reverse the Court of Appeals, vacate its award of attorney's fees, and remand for further proceedings.

FACTS AND PROCEDURE

¶ 2 When Rachel Anderson (formerly Rachel Rodgers) was six years old, a horse kicked her in the face and she sustained serious injuries. Her many fractures and lacerations required multiple surgeries, and she suffered severe cognitive and emotional trauma. Rachel's family hired respondent Richard McMenamin to pursue a personal injury action against the owner of the horse. Br. of Appellant Rachel Marguerite Anderson at 4.

¶ 3 On August 25, 1997, the Clallam County Superior Court approved a personal injury settlement of $ 300,000.00 and the creation of the " Rachel Marguerite Rodgers Trust." McMenamin hired respondent attorney William Dussault to draw up the trust agreement. After attorney's fees and other costs, a net amount of $ 187,160.66 entered the trust. As outlined in the trust agreement, respondent Wells Fargo Bank, NA served as trustee. The agreement also created a trust advisory committee (TAC) composed of petitioner's

Page 397

mother, Andrea Davey (formerly Andrea Rodgers); and respondent McMenamin, who were tasked with making distribution decisions for Rachel's benefit.

¶ 4 The trust agreement identifies the trust as a special needs trust intended to help Rachel cope with her severe disabilities stemming from the accident. The trust agreement declares that

it is the purpose of this Trust to provide extra and supplemental medical, health, and nursing care, dental care, developmental services, support, maintenance, education, rehabilitation, [181 Wn.2d 364] therapies, devices, recreation, social opportunities, assistive devices, advocacy, legal services, respite care, personal attendant care, income and other tax liabilities, and ...

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