Banks v. Central Trust & Investment Co., 388 S.W.3d 173 (Mo. App. E.D. 2012)

Factual Background:

Settlor executed a revocable living trust in 1992.  In 2009, Defendants filed suit to remove Plaintiff as trustee.  The action was resolved by consent judgment signed by the parties.  The consent judgment warranted that there were no amendments to the trust.  In 2010, Plaintiff filed suit to determine the validity of an amendment to the trust he allegedly found after signing the consent judgment.  Defendants filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings.

St. Louis County Circuit Court, Ross, J., Held:

The court granted Defendants’ motion for judgment on the pleadings based on judicial estoppel.  Plaintiff appealed.

Court of Appeals, Romines, J., Held:

Affirmed.  Plaintiff argued the trial court erred in that there were genuine issues of material fact.  Judicial estoppel prevents parties from taking one position in one proceeding to obtain benefits from that position in a later proceeding.

The court found the trial court’s decision was flawed because judicial estoppel does not apply where the party’s prior position was taken due to a good-faith mistake rather than a scheme to mislead and manipulate the court.  However, the court’s result was correct because the purported amendment was not properly delivered according to the terms of the trust.  Therefore, there was no proper amendment and the case was affirmed.

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