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Jun 3, 2022

Dallas Jury Awards Almost $3 Million in Family’s Dispute Over Sale Proceeds, Inheritance

A Dallas County jury has found that a wealthy mother violated an oral contract and her fiduciary duties in keeping proceeds from an oil and gas sale owed to her late son, from her two grandsons. Her two grandsons and their uncle brought the lawsuit. The panel took just two hours to unanimously award more than $2.6 million to the grandsons, and more than $300,000 to their uncle for the remaining amount of proceeds due to him.

The case involved the family’s sale of oil and gas mineral interests to Black Stone Minerals, L.P. in a $14.5 million transaction. Prior to the sale, the family members agreed to share the proceeds equally. Following the sale, the mother distributed part of the 25 percent share of the net sale to two of her three children. The third child, who traveled to the United States from his home overseas to collect his proceeds, unexpectedly died shortly after arriving in Dallas. The mother then refused to distribute the remaining 25 percent share to her son’s two surviving sons, claiming that before his death he had “gifted” his mineral interests to her.

The children were represented at trial by lead counsel and firm partner Jason Dennis, “This was a sad and bitter fight in which the Defendant tried every tactic possible to avoid giving her own son and grandsons their share of the money from the sale, spending millions on defense lawyers. But her wealth could not overcome our determination to fight for what our clients were owed. I am very happy for our clients, who though they live in Costa Rica, were able to benefit from our American justice system. I had a great trial team that shined though outnumbered.”

The team comprised of firm attorneys Greg Brassfield, Daniela Holmes, and firm appellate counsel David Coale. In addition, probate litigation experts, Sarah Toraason and Mark Caldwell of Caldwell Bennett Thomas Toraason & Mead PLLC, served as co-counsel.

“A wealthy woman exploited the death of her son and attempted to steal a multi-million-dollar inheritance. It doesn’t get more Dickensian than that,” says Brassfield. “The defendant deployed her fortune to hire an endless supply of lawyers, experts, and third-party vendors. The plaintiffs, on the other hand, had to remain lean and targeted. Despite the enormous differences, our team was materially more prepared, focused, and agile when it came to trying the case and bringing home the win for our deserving clients."

The case is DC-19-17313 in Dallas County’s 192nd Civil District Court.