Reneke v. Reneke

Decision Date26 September 2003
Citation897 So.2d 1101
PartiesAgnes Markie RENEKE, as administratrix of the estate of Kathleen Elizabeth Reneke, deceased v. Edward RENEKE.
CourtAlabama Court of Civil Appeals

Richard L. Watters, Mobile, for appellant.

Donald M. Briskman of Briskman & Binion, P.C., Mobile, for appellee.

PITTMAN, Judge.

This appeal arises from estate proceedings in the Mobile Probate Court. In January 1996, Kathleen Elizabeth Reneke died intestate from injuries received in a motor-vehicle collision that occurred in 1990; her parents were her sole heirs at law. In February 1996, Kathleen's mother, Agnes Markie Reneke ("the administratrix"), was appointed the personal representative of Kathleen's estate, whose principal asset was the remnants of a multi million-dollar settlement obtained by the estate from a number of alleged tortfeasors purportedly responsible for the motor-vehicle collision that ultimately caused Kathleen's death. Cf. Reneke v. Mobile Health Plan, 668 So.2d 505 (Ala.1995)

(reversing judgment in favor of medical insurers under which they were to be paid $263,607 from $2,100,000 settlement proceeds).

In 1999, certain disputes arose between the administratrix and Kathleen's father, Edward Reneke ("the father"), regarding what disbursements should be made from the estate. In a transcribed proceeding in March 1999, the father's attorney recited a stipulation that had been entered into between counsel for the parties under which it was agreed that the administratrix had received payments of $205,000 from the estate and that the father or his designees had received payments of $185,000 from the estate. It was apparently understood by all parties that the total distributions from the estate to both parties to that point should have been equal and that $20,000 was therefore owed to the father; the administratrix agreed to pay the father $20,000, with $10,000 of that amount to be paid within 30 days after the March 23, 1999, hearing date. The probate court accepted the parties' stipulation, stating on the record in open court that of the $20,000 to be paid, the administratrix was to "pay over to [the father]" $10,000 "and that's to be reported to the Court on the status report back in 30 days." The record reflects that the administratrix paid the father $10,000 by issuing two checks from her personal account, but that she did not pay the father any other amounts with respect to that stipulation and order.

In February 2001, the administratrix filed a petition for partial settlement of the estate, alleging a previous balance of $27,952.18, disbursements of $16,638, and a balance on hand of $11,314.18. The administratrix then moved to amend her petition, seeking to convert it to a final-settlement petition, and moved that the estate be declared fully administered and closed. The father filed an objection to the settlement petition, arguing, among other things, that a number of items for which the administratrix claimed to be entitled to reimbursement were improper and not for legitimate expenses of the estate. After a hearing, the probate court entered a judgment on December 21, 2001, providing, in pertinent part, that the administratrix was to reimburse the estate for expenses disallowed in the amount of $8,700.74; that the administratrix and the estate were each to be responsible for one-half of the outstanding court costs; that the estate was responsible for paying attorney fees and expenses of counsel for the father and the estate; and that the remaining funds in the estate should thereafter be divided equally between the administratrix and the father.

On January 17, 2002, the administratrix filed a motion to alter or amend the December 2001 judgment, averring, in pertinent part, that the disallowed expenses were primarily surety-bond payments that should have been payable out of estate funds. The probate court then entered an order on February 14, 2002, amending certain aspects of its judgment; in pertinent part, the court specifically found that the $8,700.74 sum that it had directed the administratrix to repay the estate represented expenses "with respect to hauling, housing and storage of tangible items claimed by the Administratrix as her personal property, separate and apart from that which belonged to the Estate." As amended, the probate court's final judgment directed the administratrix to pay the estate $8,700.74; directed that the estate and the administratrix each be responsible for paying one-half of the outstanding court costs (which amounted to $1,082); authorized the payment of a commission from the estate to the administratrix in the amount of $2,000; directed the estate to pay $3,500 to counsel for the estate and $5,000 to the father's counsel; and directed that the remaining funds in the estate be divided equally between the administratrix and the father, as Kathleen's surviving heirs.

On April 18, 2002, the administratrix filed a motion for relief from the probate court's final-settlement judgment. See Rule 60(b), Ala. R. Civ. P. In that motion, the administratrix contended that a January 2001 order entered pursuant to an agreement of the parties had directed a disbursement of $69,000 to the father and a disbursement of $40,000 to the administratrix and that that order had, in effect, already accounted for the $8,700.74 withdrawn from the estate for personal expenses of the administratrix. The father filed an objection to, and a motion to strike, the motion for relief; he later filed an amended objection and motion to strike in which he contended that the administratrix had yet to pay him $10,000 that, he claimed, remained due pursuant to the March 1999 agreed order. On August 14, 2002, the probate court denied the motion for relief from the judgment that had been filed by the administratrix; in doing so, that court stated that it had been "unsuccessful in scheduling a meeting with counsel ... concerning the pending matters."

Rather than appealing from the denial of her Rule 60(b) motion for relief from the judgment, the administratrix, on August 30, 2002, filed a second Rule 60(b) motion for relief asserting the same substantive grounds as in her first motion. The father filed a motion to strike the second motion for relief, averring that the motion was repetitive and procedurally improper and requesting that the administratrix be directed to "fully comply with the orders of th[e] court in paying to the Estate and the [father] monies due by her to them respectively." The administratrix then amended her second Rule 60(b) motion to aver that she was entitled to a credit for the $10,000 that she had paid to the father pursuant to the March 1999 order directing her to pay $20,000 to the father; according to the amended motion, the administratrix had paid that $10,000 out of her own funds. After a hearing, the probate court entered an order on November 22, 2002, granting the father's motion to strike the second Rule 60(b) motion; however, in granting the father's motion to strike, the probate court also concluded that the administratrix owed $10,000 to the father because she had paid only $10,000 of the $20,000 ordered to be paid under the March 1999 order. No appeal was taken from the November 22, 2002, order.

On January 7, 2003, the probate court entered an order sua sponte, stating that the administratrix owed the father $10,000 pursuant to its March 1999 and November 2002 orders and stating that the administratrix owed the father (instead of the estate) $8,700.74 pursuant to its judgment, as amended, on the final-settlement petition; that sua sponte order also stated that a check from the estate to the father in the amount of $5,834.08 could be negotiated by the father and that those funds would offset any moneys the administratrix owed to the father. On January 13, 2002, the administratrix filed a motion to alter, amend, or vacate the January 7, 2003, sua sponte order, pointing out that the estate, not the father, had been the designated payee of the $8,700.74 amount specified in the probate court's judgment on the final-settlement petition. After a hearing, the probate court entered an order on April 2, 2003, reaffirming its earlier judgment and order with respect to the $10,000 payment owed to the father and directing the administratrix to distribute to the father "the monies due him from the balance in the estate account" (which the probate court calculated to be $5,664.55); that order did not, however, refer to the $8,700.74 that the administratrix had been ordered to pay. The administratrix appealed to the Alabama Supreme Court on April 29, 2003, but her appeal was transferred to this court because this court has exclusive appellate jurisdiction, pursuant to § 12-3-10, Ala.Code 1975, of appeals where the amount in controversy is $50,000 or less (exclusive of interest and costs).

On appeal, the...

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6 cases
  • Williams v. Williams
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Civil Appeals
    • February 24, 2012
    ...regular on its face and that indicates subject-matter and personal jurisdiction is conclusive on collateral attack. Reneke v. Reneke, 897 So.2d 1101, 1105 (Ala.Civ.App.2003). However, “ ‘[j]udgments entered without subject-matter jurisdiction can “be set aside at any time as void, either on......
  • McGallagher v. Estate of Degeer
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Civil Appeals
    • December 30, 2005
    ...the Alabama Rules of Civil Procedure apply in probate court proceedings pursuant to § 12-13-12, Ala.Code 1975. See Reneke v. Reneke, 897 So.2d 1101, 1106 (Ala.Civ.App.2003); and In re Morrison, 388 So.2d 1014, 1015 3. Section 12-22-21, Ala.Code 1975, provides, in pertinent part: "Appeal fro......
  • T.C. v. B.C.
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Civil Appeals
    • August 6, 2021
    ... ... Dep't of Hum. Res., 114 ... So.3d 835, 841 (Ala. Civ. App. 2012); B.M. v. State, ... 895 So.2d 319, 331 (Ala. Civ. App. 2004); Reneke v ... Reneke, 897 So.2d 1101, 1105 (Ala. Civ. App. 2003); and ... State ex rel. Head v. Head, 506 So.2d 1010, 1012 ... (Ala. Civ ... ...
  • Williams v. Lollar
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Civil Appeals
    • November 7, 2008
    ...the Alabama Rules of Civil Procedure apply in probate court proceedings pursuant to § 12-13-12, Ala.Code 1975. See Reneke v. Reneke, 897 So.2d 1101, 1106 (Ala.Civ. App.2003); and In re Morrison, 388 So.2d 1014, 1015 Section 12-22-21 (1), Ala.Code 1975, provides: "Appeal from the order, judg......
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