336 S.W.3d 2 (Ky. 2010), 2010-SC-000155-MR, Peter v. Gibson

Docket Nº2010-SC-000155-MR.
Citation336 S.W.3d 2
Opinion JudgeVENTERS, Justice.
Party NameEmil PETER, III, Appellant, v. Hon. Susan Schultz GIBSON, Judge, Jefferson Circuit Court, Appellees. and Emil Peter IV, Real Party in Interest.
AttorneyHarry Bernard O'Donnell IV, Louisville, KY, Counsel for Appellant. Honorable Susan Schultz Gibson, Judge, Jefferson Circuit Court, Louisville, KY, for Appellee. Matthew Faurest Coogle, Ackerson & Yann, PLLC, Louisville, KY, Counsel for Appellee and Real Party in Interest, Emil Peter IV.
Judge PanelMINTON, C.J., ABRAMSON, CUNNINGHAM, and SCOTT, JJ., concur. NOBLE, J., dissents by separate opinion, in which SCHRODER, J., joins. NOBLE, J., Dissenting: SCHRODER, J., joins this dissenting opinion.
Case DateDecember 16, 2010
CourtUnited States State Supreme Court (Kentucky)

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336 S.W.3d 2 (Ky. 2010)

Emil PETER, III, Appellant,

v.

Hon. Susan Schultz GIBSON, Judge, Jefferson Circuit Court, Appellees.

and

Emil Peter IV, Real Party in Interest.

No. 2010-SC-000155-MR.

Supreme Court of Kentucky.

December 16, 2010

Page 3

Harry Bernard O'Donnell IV, Louisville, KY, Counsel for Appellant.

Honorable Susan Schultz Gibson, Judge, Jefferson Circuit Court, Louisville, KY, for Appellee.

Matthew Faurest Coogle, Ackerson & Yann, PLLC, Louisville, KY, Counsel for Appellee and Real Party in Interest, Emil Peter IV.

OPINION

VENTERS, Justice.

Appellant, Emil Peter III, seeks a writ of prohibition against the Jefferson Circuit Court to bar an accounting of funds held by him for the benefit of Appellee and Real Party in Interest, Emil Peter IV. Appellant argues that since the funds in question were part of a bequest made pursuant to the Uniform Transfers to Minors Act (hereinafter " UTMA" ), the Jefferson Circuit Court does not have subject matter jurisdiction over this matter. The Court of Appeals denied the writ of prohibition finding that the General Assembly's grant of original jurisdiction to the district court over matters involving the UTMA did not extend to parties, like Appellee, who are no longer minors. For the reasons set forth below, we affirm the Court of Appeals.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

In 1983, Appellee's grandmother, Decedent, Allyne M. Peter, bequeathed to Appellee all of the benefits due her estate from her employee pension plan. Since Appellee at the time was a minor, pursuant to the UTMA, Appellant, who was the Decedent's son and Appellee's father, was named custodian of the custodial property. The initial amount of the bequest totaled $86,409.46.

According to an affidavit filed by Appellee in the underlying case, he only had a general understanding that his grandmother had left him some money. Appellant provided Appellee with very little information regarding the bequest, but did give Appellee several distributions from the custodial property which were described to Appellee as " gifts." When Appellee turned eighteen, Appellant failed to give the remaining custodial property to Appellee as was required by KRS 385.202(1). Appellee eventually learned of the size of the initial bequest through a review of public records. Surprised by the size of the bequest in comparison to the small distributions he received, Appellee brought an accounting action against Appellant in Jefferson Circuit Court.

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The circuit court initially dismissed the accounting action for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction, due to the UTMA's exclusive grant of jurisdiction to district court. However, upon Appellee's motion to amend, alter, or vacate its dismissal order, the circuit court changed its position and held that since Appellee was no longer a minor, the circuit court had subject matter jurisdiction. Appellant then sought a writ of prohibition against the Jefferson Circuit Court which was denied by the Court of Appeals. He now appeals that denial to this Court as a matter of right.

APPELLANT IS NOT ENTITLED TO A WRIT OF PROHIBITION BECAUSE THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY DID NOT GIVE JURISDICTION TO THE DISTRICT COURT OVER AN ACCOUNTING ACTION FILED BY AN ADULT

Appellant argues that he is entitled to a writ of prohibition because the district court has exclusive jurisdiction over any case dealing with the UTMA, and thus the Jefferson Circuit Court is acting outside of its jurisdiction by hearing Appellee's accounting action. We disagree.

A writ of prohibition " is an ‘ extraordinary remedy’ that Kentucky courts ‘ have always been cautious and conservative both in entertaining petitions for and in granting such relief.’ " Newell Enterprises, Inc. v. Bowling, 158 S.W.3d 750, 754 (Ky.2005) (quoting Bender v. Eaton, 343 S.W.2d 799, 800 (Ky.1961)).

A writ of prohibition may be granted upon a showing that (1) the lower court is proceeding or is about to proceed outside of its jurisdiction and there is no remedy through an application to an intermediate court; or (2) that the lower court is acting or is about to act erroneously, although within its jurisdiction, and there exists no adequate remedy by appeal or otherwise and great injustice and irreparable injury will result if the petition is not granted.

Hoskins v. Maricle, 150 S.W.3d 1, 10 (Ky.2004).

Kentucky Constitution § 113(6) expressly provides that " [t]he district court shall be a court of limited jurisdiction and shall exercise original jurisdiction as may be provided by the General Assembly." " Accordingly, in order to resolve the issue at bar, we must look to the appropriate statutes" to see what jurisdiction was granted to the district courts. McElroy v. Taylor, 977 S.W.2d 929, 931 (Ky.1998).

Clearly, the General Assembly gave district courts original jurisdiction for UTMA disputes. See KRS 385.012(5) (" ‘ Court’ means District Court." ) In Privett v. Clendenin, 52 S.W.3d 530, 532 (Ky.2001), we recognized that the General Assembly gave district courts exclusive jurisdiction to order a custodian to make an accounting under the UTMA through KRS 385.192. However, KRS 385.192 allows only the following persons " to petition the district court for an accounting" under the UTMA:

a minor who has attained the age of 14 years;

the minor's guardian of the person or legal representative;

• an adult member of the minor's family;

• a transferor (of the custodial property) or a transferor's legal representative.

KRS 385.012(11) defines a " minor" as " an individual who has not attained the age of eighteen (18) years." Thus, from its plain language, KRS 385.192 applies only to minors or one petitioning for an accounting of custodial property on behalf of a minor. An accounting action under KRS 385.192 cannot therefore apply to custodial property which was (or should have been) released

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to an adult beneficiary per KRS 385.202(1), because the beneficiary would no longer be a minor. Our ruling in Privett does not contradict this conclusion, because in that case the beneficial owners of the custodial property were still minors, the claimant on their behalf was an adult member of their family, and the UTMA custodianship was ongoing. Privett, 52 S.W.3d at 532. Thus, in Privett the accounting action fell within the purview of KRS 385.192.

In this matter, Appellee was over twenty-nine years old when he brought this accounting action. Appellee was clearly no longer a minor, and he was entitled to have the custodial property turned over to him once he turned eighteen-years-old. KRS 385.202(1). A beneficial owner of custodial property who once was, but no longer is, " a minor" would have no more right to seek an accounting under KRS 385.192 than a person who once was, but no longer is, a legal representative or guardian of a minor. The UTMA gives no authority to the district court to order an accounting based upon a petitioner's past status. The proper court for an adult, such as Appellee, to file an accounting action like the one in this matter, is the circuit court.

In seeking the accounting here, Appellee did not invoke the provisions of KRS 385.192. Instead,...

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6 practice notes
  • Huny & BH Assocs. v. AVI Silberberg, 122721 NJSUP, A-1696-17
    • United States
    • Superior Court of New Jersey
    • December 27, 2021
    ...custodian fails to transfer the property, imposition of a constructive trust in favor of the former minor is appropriate. Peter v. Gibson, 336 S.W.3d 2, 5-6 (Ky. 2010) constructive trust on custodial property that the custodian failed to relinquish when son reached age of majority). Althoug......
  • Pal Oil, LLC v. United American Energy, LLC, 102612 KYCA, 2011-CA-000744-MR
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Kentucky
    • October 26, 2012
    ...to it—contract disputes and suits in equity. Ky. Const. §§ 109 & 112(5); Kentucky Revised Statute (KRS) 23A.010; Peter v. Gibson, 336 S.W.3d 2, 5 (Ky. 2010). The Fayette Circuit Court "acquired jurisdiction of the subject matter [of UAE's claims] when the petition [or, as in this c......
  • 419 S.W.3d 49 (Ky.App. 2013), 2010-CA-001803-MR, Smith v. Bear, Inc.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Kentucky
    • April 5, 2013
    ...S.W.3d 171, 175 (Ky. 2012). In Kentucky, imposition of a constructive trust is an exercise of a court's equitable power. Peter v. Gibson, 336 S.W.3d 2 (Ky. Restitution is a legal remedy when ordered in a case at law and an equitable remedy when ordered in an equity case, and whether the awa......
  • Birchwood Conservancy v. United Brotherhood of Carpenters, 100711 KYCA, 2009-CA-001413-MR
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Kentucky
    • October 7, 2011
    ...brought – contract disputes and suits in equity. Ky. Const. §§ 109 & 112(5); Kentucky Revised Statutes (KRS) 23A.010; Peter v. Gibson, 336 S.W.3d 2, 5 (Ky. The Scott Circuit Court "acquired jurisdiction of the subject-matter [of Birchwood's claims] when the petition [or, as in this......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
5 cases
  • Pal Oil, LLC v. United American Energy, LLC, 102612 KYCA, 2011-CA-000744-MR
    • United States
    • Kentucky Court of Appeals of Kentucky
    • October 26, 2012
    ...to it—contract disputes and suits in equity. Ky. Const. §§ 109 & 112(5); Kentucky Revised Statute (KRS) 23A.010; Peter v. Gibson, 336 S.W.3d 2, 5 (Ky. 2010). The Fayette Circuit Court "acquired jurisdiction of the subject matter [of UAE's claims] when the petition [or, as in this c......
  • 419 S.W.3d 49 (Ky.App. 2013), 2010-CA-001803-MR, Smith v. Bear, Inc.
    • United States
    • Kentucky Court of Appeals of Kentucky
    • April 5, 2013
    ...S.W.3d 171, 175 (Ky. 2012). In Kentucky, imposition of a constructive trust is an exercise of a court's equitable power. Peter v. Gibson, 336 S.W.3d 2 (Ky. 2010). Restitution is a legal remedy when ordered in a case at law and an equitable remedy when ordered in an equity case, and whether ......
  • Birchwood Conservancy v. United Brotherhood of Carpenters, 100711 KYCA, 2009-CA-001413-MR
    • United States
    • Kentucky Court of Appeals of Kentucky
    • October 7, 2011
    ...brought – contract disputes and suits in equity. Ky. Const. §§ 109 & 112(5); Kentucky Revised Statutes (KRS) 23A.010; Peter v. Gibson, 336 S.W.3d 2, 5 (Ky. 2010). The Scott Circuit Court "acquired jurisdiction of the subject-matter [of Birchwood's claims] when the petition [or, as ......
  • Cardi v. Cardi, 111011 KYCA, 2009-CA-001965-MR
    • United States
    • Kentucky Court of Appeals of Kentucky
    • November 10, 2011
    ...reverse and remand on this ground. As it presently stands, Cesare only holds the funds in constructive trust for Kathryn. Peter v. Gibson, 336 S.W.3d 2 (Ky. 2010). Directive to Supply Report Cards to Noncustodial Parent Finally, Paula contends that the trial court lacked jurisdiction to req......
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