Articles Posted in Trusts & Estates

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Kurt R. Ward, Attorney at Law, LLC, appealed the district court's order denying its motion for judgment on the pleadings and granting the Plan Parties' (the Bert Bell/Pete Rozelle NFL Player Retirement Plan, the Retirement Board of the Plan, and the Bank of New York Mellon Corporation) cross-motion for judgment on the pleadings. Both parties' motions sought a declaration about whether the Plan Parties had to pay the disability benefits of two of the Ward Firm's retired NFL player clients into the firm's client trust account pursuant to state court jurisdiction for unpaid attorney's fees despite a provision in the Plan prohibiting any "benefit under the Plan" from being assigned or reached by creditors through legal process. The court held that its prior panel precedent held that bargained-for provisions barring assignments in ERISA welfare benefits were valid and enforceable and that the Ward Firm had not directed the court's attention to any such intervening en banc or Supreme Court decision. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment and held that the district court did not err in declaring that the spendthrift provision in the Plan prevented the Plan Parties from depositing the disability benefits owned by two retired NFL players into the Ward Firm's trust account.

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Appellant, the personal representative of the estate of her son, sued two police officers alleging violations of state wrongful death claims and excessive force claims under 42 U.S.C. 1983 when her son died after being arrested and tasered by the officers. At issue was whether a section 1983 excessive force claim survived in Alabama if the injured party died before the lawsuit was filed, or abated pursuant to Ala. Code 6-5-462. The court held that there was no inconsistency between section 6-5-462 and federal law and that the statute was applicable to this case. Therefore, the excessive force claim against one of the officers abated under Alabama law when section 6-5-462 applied to the action, which was not filed prior to the death of the son.