Weinberg v. Weinberg, 2006 WL 2265216, 31 Fla. L. Weekly D2094 (Fla.App. 4 Dist. Aug 09, 2006)

Is it just me, or does it seem like venue has all of a sudden become a hot topic in trust litigation?  I wrote previously about recent trust-litigation venue rulings here and here.  Well, you can add this case to the list as well.  Here the 4th DCA has weighed in on the subject in the context of a dispute involving a lawsuit by the adult-children-of-first-marriage against second wife, who revoked a trust in Palm Beach County then moved south to Miami-Dade County.  The kids sued her in Palm Beach County.  Second wife argued that since she was presently residing in Miami-Dade County, the lawsuit against her in Palm Beach County should be dismissed on venue grounds.  The trial court denied her motion, and she appealed.  On appeal the 4th DCA upheld the trial court’s decision citing to the following set of facts as grounds for its ruling:

In this case, Palm Beach County was the situs of the trust and its assets, the trust was administered in Palm Beach County before Betty purported to revoke it, and the distributions would have been made by the trustee in Palm Beach County upon Sidney’s death. When Betty attempted to revoke the trust in its entirety and take title to all of the trust property, the last event necessary to make her liable for breach of trust took place. That is where the injury to the sons first took place. We therefore hold that the cause of action for breach of trust accrued in Palm Beach County, where Betty purported to revoke the trust.

Our resolution of this issue makes it unnecessary to decide whether venue was proper on any other basis.

Lesson Learned:

I found it interesting that the 4th DCA never mentions Florida’s trust-litigation venue statute (F.S. 737.202).  Regardless, this case underscores the level of scrutiny courts will apply to the unique facts of a case when determining venue disputes.  It seems to me that the party that most persuasively argues the facts establishing a clear link between its favored venue and the facts directly underlying the cause of action being litigated is most likely to win.