Appeals Court of Massachusetts affirms key decisions of lower court; awards attorneys' fees
Burns & Levinson partner Robert J. O'Regan
won a major appellate victory as the conservator for Alice Migell whose
nearly $5 million estate was pilfered by one of her sons. The November
2, 2016 decision by the Massachusetts Appeals Court upheld judgments
from Middlesex Probate and Family Court, that returned real estate and
approximate sale proceeds that the son kept after selling real estate
from a trust. The decision also upheld criminal contempt convictions
against the son and his wife, Andrew and Kai Sun Migell, for their
transferring assets to put them out of reach to satisfy what was owed.
The Appeals Court will also require the son and his wife to pay
O'Regan's legal fees.
The original lawsuit was filed in 2009 after O'Regan was
appointed as Alice Migell's guardian.
O'Regan recovered real estate
valued in excess of $2 million in addition to approximately $400,000
that Andrew Migell kept from selling the trust's real estate. The
returned property included a vacation home in Hull, a house in Wayland,
and rental property. An investigation revealed, and an earlier judgment
against them determined that Andrew and Kai Sun Migell worked to take
for themselves virtually all of the assets that Mrs. Migell had, either
in her own name or as her inheritance following the death of her husband
to whom she had been married for over 40 years.
The Probate and Family Court ruled in 2013 that Andrew and
Kai Sun Migell had orchestrated a "continuous, willful campaign of
fraudulent, obstructionist behavior designed to separate Mrs. Migell
from her assets which should have been available to cover the costs of
her 24-hour care necessary for the preservation of her mental and
In 2013, the Probate and Family Court also ordered Andrew and
Kai Sun Migell to pay $512,680 in attorneys' costs that Mrs. Migell
incurred to recover her own property and to defend against their
attempts to impoverish her after they "set out on a ruthless campaign to
totally and utterly deprive his elderly, ailing and recently widowed
mother of her entire estate." The Appeals Court had upheld this decision
"This was one of the worst cases of elder abuse that I have
seen in over 30 years of practicing law. Alice Migell was 83 years old
and suffering from dementia when we went to trial to regain control of
the assets she needs to live the rest of her time with dignity and
comfort," said O'Regan. "I feel fortunate to have been able to serve the
Court and to help Mrs. Migell recover her funds and property.
this case sends a message that exploitation of the elderly and infirm
will not be tolerated. Anyone who takes advantage of the most vulnerable
people in society should be held accountable for the harm they cause.
That is what this Appeals Court decision stands for."
Full Article & Source:
Burns & Levinson Wins Important Elder Abuse Case on Appeal