Simpson v. In re Estate of Norton, 2007 WL 397463 (Fla. 3d DCA Feb 07, 2007)

The most frustrating probate litigant has to be the irrational adversary.  Not because this type of adversary is more apt to win, but because this type of adversary is more apt to make everyone waste a lot of time and money using the court system to force compliance with existing black letter law every step of the way.  The last sentence of the linked-to opinion gives you a hint of what type of litigant Ms. Simpson is:

[T]his is not the proper forum in which to litigate Simpson’s numerous complaints about her three former attorneys and we decline to address those issues.

What’s most striking about the linked-to opinion is that although the three orders at issue all cover mundane administrative decisions that all appear to be common sense rulings by a thoughtful probate judge — an irrational litigant was able to cause unnecessary delay and expense by exploiting the expansive appellate rules applicable to probate proceedings.  Two of the orders on appeal were entered in April of 2006, the third in July of 2006.  The appellate decision upholding those rulings wasn’t published until February of 2007: that’s 7 months of needless delay!?  If you read the opinion it sounds like the estate’s attorney did everything right.  Is there a better way to manage this type of irrational litigant?  I have to admit that in this case I can’t think of one.  Sure, you can always move for sanctions, but that doesn’t put a stop to the delaying tactics and the irrational litigant will probably brush off the threat of sanctions anyway.

In terms of guidance for future litigants, the following line from the linked-to opinion probably says it best:

[D]issatisfaction with the administration of a probate estate unaccompanied by any legal basis as to how the trial court abused its discretion is not grounds for an appeal.