DWIGHT RANDY GREEN, as an individual, as the son of Ralph and Jeanne Green, and as Shareholder of Green Enterprises, Inc.; KATHY LEFOR, as an individual, as the daughter of Ralph and Jeanne Green, and as a Shareholder of Green Enterprises, Inc.; and GARY GREEN, as an individual, as the son of Ralph and Jeanne Green, and as a Shareholder of Green Enterprises, Inc., Plaintiffs-Appellants,
JAMES GREEN, as an individual, as Trustee of the Ralph Maurice and Jeanne Green Revocable Inter Vivos Trust, as Conservator for Jeanne Green, and as President of Green Enterprises, Inc.; RALPH MAURICE AND JEANNE GREEN REVOCABLE INTER VIVOS TRUST; and GREEN ENTERPRISES, INC., an Idaho corporation, Defendants-Respondents.
Opinion No. 4
from the District Court of the First Judicial District of the
State of Idaho, Bonner County. Hon. John T. Mitchell,
judgment of the district court is affirmed.
Law Office, LTD, Star, for appellants. Greg Silvey argued.
F. Magnuson, Coeur d'Alene, for respondent.
an appeal from the district court's order granting
summary judgment and dismissing a lawsuit brought by Dwight
Randy Green, Kathy Lefor, and Gary Green (collectively,
"Siblings") against James Green
("James"). Siblings brought this action to
challenge the Sixth Amendment to the Ralph Maurice and Jeanne
Green Revocable Inter Vivos Trust ("the Trust"),
alleging it was the product of undue influence. The Trust was
amended from an equal distribution between all of Ralph and
Jeanne Green's children to a 100% distribution to James
to the exclusion of the Siblings. The district court granted
summary judgment after determining that Siblings had failed
to show a genuine issue of material fact which would support
a finding of undue influence. We affirm.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
1965, Jeanne Green inherited approximately 400 acres of
property on Lake Pend Oreille in Bonner County. The property
consists of timberland and includes 3, 500 feet of shoreline.
In 1976, Ralph and Jeanne formed Green Family Enterprises,
Inc. ("the corporation") and Jeanne conveyed the
property to the corporation. The corporation's property
includes four cabins and leasable sites for about 16 other
cabins. The corporation's income comes from leasing
property and logging operations.
and Jeanne have five children, Siblings, James, and Sheila
Green ("Sheila"). Sheila is disabled and not a
party to this action. By 1998, Ralph and Jeanne had gifted a
10% interest in the corporation to each of the Siblings and
James. In 1998, Ralph and Jeanne created the Trust to hold
their remaining 60% interest in the corporation. The Trust
was to be distributed equally among their children upon Ralph
and Jeanne's death.
April 2, 2010, the corporation held a shareholder meeting at
which Siblings expressed the desire to use the property to
generate revenue. Later in 2010, the corporation's bylaws
were amended to reduce the number of directors from six to
three and Siblings were not elected to the board of
directors. During this later meeting, Siblings opposed a
proposition to give James a long term lease of a cabin site
on the property for a reduced price as they felt it would be
an unequal distribution to shareholders. Siblings felt the
long term lease at a greatly reduced rate could be viewed as
self-dealing and jeopardize the tax status of the
corporation. Following this meeting, Ralph and Jeanne
expressed to Tevis Hull, the corporation's attorney,
their desire to amend the Trust to make James first successor
trustee in the place of Gary Green. Hull stated that he was
not comfortable making this amendment and suggested they seek
the help of another attorney.
April 18, 2011, John Finney, counsel for Siblings, sent a
letter to the corporation's tenants. The letter provided
This letter is to inform you and to put you on notice that my
clients have concerns involving conduct of certain
shareholders, directors and/or officers of the Corporation,
specifically including but not limited to Ralph Green and
Jeanne Green. The concerns involve, but are not limited to,
the competency and/or legal capacity of Ralph Green and/or
Jeanne Green to negotiate and/or enter into new leases or
renewals of your leases and also the legal authority for
anyone to purport to negotiate and/or enter into longer term
leases on the property.
Steps are underway to address my clients [sic] concerns, but
any purported efforts to enter into long term leases or other
purported leases, contrary to the existing annual leasing
system terms, will be subjected to severe scrutiny, and if
necessary, legal action….
April 29, 2011, Ralph and Jeanne met with Richard Wallace, an
estate attorney in northern Idaho. Ralph and Jeanne had been
referred to Wallace by Steve Klatt, who began working for the