REVIEW FROM COURT OF APPEALS CASE NO. 2019-CA-000032
JEFFERSON CIRCUIT COURT NO. 17-CI-004509
COUNSEL FOR APPELLANT: John R. Cummins Janet Jakubowicz Brent
Robert Baughman Rachel Alyce Washburn BINGHAM GREENEBAUM DOLL
LLP Michael D. Risley STITES 86 HARBISON, PLLC
COUNSEL FOR APPELLEE: Not Represented by Counsel
COUNSEL FOR REAL PARTY IN INTEREST, HOPE BOYD, ADMINISTRATRIX
WWA OF THE ESTATE OF FRANKIE S. HAGER: Edward H. Bartenstein
Daniel M. Oyler PARRENT 86 OYLER
COUNSEL FOR REAL PARTY IN INTEREST, KENTUCKY WESLEYAN
COLLEGE: Carol Dan Browing Neil Edward Barton STITES 85
COUNSEL FOR REAL PARTY IN INTEREST, INTERNATIONAL BLUEGRASS
MUSIC MUSEUM, INC.: John David Meyer
PNC Bank ("PNC"), appeals the decision of the Court
of Appeals granting in part and denying in part PNC's
petition for a writ of prohibition. PNC argues that the Court
of Appeals erred by holding that the Jefferson Circuit Court
had concurrent jurisdiction over Appellee Hope Boyd's
claims of breach of fiduciary duty, breach of trust, breach
of a confidential relationship, while also alleging that the
original settlor, Frankie Hager, lacked capacity and was
unduly influenced by PNC when she made changes to her trust
in 2014. While we acknowledge both parties'
frustration and confusion over the underlying statutory
framework, we find that the Jefferson District Court has
exclusive jurisdiction of all breach of trust claims arising
out of a KRS 386B.8-180 proceeding. Thus, we reverse
the Court of Appeals' decision and grant PNC's writ
Factual and Procedural Background.
writ appeal stems from allegations made regarding the actions
of PNC as trustee of the Frankie Scott Hager Revocable Trust.
In early 2017, Boyd-at that time attorney-in-fact for Ms.
Hager-removed PNC as trustee and appointed Commonwealth Bank
and Trust Company ("Commonwealth Bank") as
successor trustee. In May 2017, PNC sent notice to Boyd
pursuant to KRS 386B.8-180 ("statutory notice")
informing her that Commonwealth Bank had accepted appointment
as the new trustee. The statutory notice also contained
information regarding the Trust and alerted Boyd of her right
to object "to any action or omission disclosed in the
Trust Information." In June, Boyd sent PNC a list of
objections to PNC's statutory notice including
allegations of breach of fiduciary duty, breach of
confidential relationship, lack of capacity, and undue
influence regarding administration of the trust and the
transfer of $1, 032, 930.60 to two separate trusts for the
benefit of Kentucky Wesleyan College and the International
Bluegrass Music Museum, Inc.
August 18, pursuant to KRS 386B.8-180, PNC filed a petition
in Jefferson District Court to approve its statutory notice.
Three days later, Boyd and Ms Hager filed an action against
PNC in Jefferson Circuit Court alleging breach of fiduciary
duty, breach of trust, breach of confidential relationship, a
contest of the charitable trust agreements (hereinafter
"breach of trust claims"), and demanded injunctive
relief, damages, and an accounting Boyd and Ms Hager also
filed for removal of the district court action to circuit
court The circuit court denied PNC's motion for dismissal
of the circuit court action and PNC's subsequent motion
to vacate. Following these denials, PNC
petitioned for a writ of prohibition in the Court of Appeals
alleging the circuit court lacked subject matter jurisdiction
The Court of Appeals granted in part and denied in part,
holding that while the district court had exclusive
jurisdiction over some claims raised via KRS 386B8-180,
concurrent jurisdiction existed for the breach of trust
claims brought under the separate circuit court action.
PNC now appeals the Court of Appeals'
asserts that the Court of Appeals erred by determining that
the circuit court and district court have concurrent
jurisdiction over Boyd's breach of trust claims. PNC asks
this Court for a writ prohibiting the circuit court from
hearing such claims. First, we note that the "issuance
of a writ is an extraordinary remedy that is disfavored by
our jurisprudence." Caldwell v.
Chauvin, 464 S.W.3d 139, 144 (Ky. 2015) (citation
omitted). Further, "the issuance of a writ is inherently
discretionary" and even upon a showing that the
"requirements are met and error found, the grant of a
writ remains within the sole discretion of the Court."
Id. at 145-46 (citation omitted).
A writ of prohibition may be granted upon a showing
that (1) the lower court is proceeding or is about to proceed
outside of its jurisdiction and there is no remedy through an
application to an intermediate court; or (2) that the lower
court is acting or is about to act erroneously, although
within its jurisdiction, and there exists no adequate remedy
by appeal or ...