Matthew Keenan lost an emotional legal battle with the bank he decided to dismiss as the court-appointed conservator of his estate. But he might change Colorado law.
Last week, the state appeals court upheld a ruling that Colorado State Bank and Trust reasonably contested the efforts of Keenan, a man who recovered from a catastrophic brain injury, to terminate the bank as his conservator.
But the judges left open the question of whether the bank can collect $217,466 from Keenan for the costs of fighting his bid for independence.
In the wake of his case, pending legislation would not allow Colorado guardians and conservators to "oppose or interfere" with petitions to oust them.
Keenan, a 46-year-old man who awoke from a coma 10 years ago and regained the use of his body and brain, contended Colorado State Bank and Trust had an inherent conflict of interest when it used his money in a fight to retain control of his assets.
But the appeals court judges held that under Colorado law, "opposition to the protected person does not necessarily breach the conservator's fiduciary duty."
They rejected a Boulder court decision to award the bank all of its legal expenses and costs from Keenan's trust funds, however, and ordered the court to review what compensation would be fair.
Spencer Crona, an attorney for the bank, called the court decision well-reasoned and extensively analyzed.
Chester "Skip" Morgan, Keenan's attorney, was shocked at first. "I was kind of sleepless and upset for two days after I read the opinion," he said. "I couldn't believe it."
But he praised the appeals court for vacating the award of legal fees, as well as legislation forbidding guardians and conservators to oppose petitions to terminate their services.
"We may have lost this battle," he said, "but we have won the war by assuring that this kind of treatment never will happen again."
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One Man's Probate Court Loss Might Change Colorado Law