AFFIRMED IN PART AND REVERSED IN PART.
COOPER v. JORDAN
Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Jones County, Robert Sosalla, Judge. Heard by Vogel, P.J., McDonald, J., and Scott, S.J. Opinion by McDonald, J. (12 pages)
Linda Cooper sued her sibling Lynnette (Sue) Jordan, successor trustee of their mother's trust, asserting claims for negligence and breach of trust. Following a bench trial, the district court entered judgment in favor of Sue and dismissed Linda's petition. The district court denied Linda's request for costs and expenses and granted Sue's request for the same. OPINION HOLDS: Linda did not prove Sue was negligent or that the alleged negligence caused damage. The court did not abuse its discretion in awarding Sue costs and expenses, except for the costs and expenses relating to depositions not used at trial.
Facts as recited by the Court
"Linda Cooper sued her sibling Lynnette (Sue) Jordan, successor trustee of their mother’s trust, asserting claims for negligence and breach of trust. Linda alleged Sue failed to keep in good and habitable condition two houses on the farmstead Linda received from the trust. Linda also alleged Sue engaged in self-dealing by using trust funds to enhance the value of the property Sue received from the trust. Following a bench trial, the district court entered judgment in favor of Sue and dismissed Linda’s petition. The district court denied Linda’s request for costs and expenses but granted Sue’s request for the same. Linda timely filed this appeal. At the time of her death on August 26, 2009, Dorothy DeMean was trustee of the Dorothy L. DeMean Revocable Trust. Dorothy’s daughter Sue was designated as the successor trustee. The trust instrument provided the trust property was to be distributed in equal one-quarter shares per stirpes to Dorothy’s four surviving children—Sue, Gene, Linda, and Leann. The trust corpus included four separate farms in Jones and Linn Counties, which the family referred to as the Home Farm, the Wyoming Farm, the Martelle Farm, and the Castle Grove Farm. The siblings agreed each was to receive one of the family farms with the understanding that equalization payments were to be made between and among them to reconcile the difference in value among the farms.