Fiduciary Litigation

The loyalty required of fiduciaries is the highest duty recognized by the law. Our attorneys have vindicated the interests of both fiduciaries and beneficiaries in high-stakes cases.  We have successfully represented clients—from individuals to Fortune 500 companies—on all sides of the fiduciary relationship, including beneficiaries, trustees, agents, executors, and administrators.

Representative cases

Burks v. XL Specialty Ins.

No. 14-14-00740, 2015 WL 5436884 (Tex. App. Houston [14th Dist] Sept. 15, 2015, no pet. h.):

Chris Johns, Joe Marrs, and Zev Kusin co-authored the winning brief in an appeal in which the Fourteenth Court of Appeals reversed summary judgment in favor of an insurance company that refused to indemnify a CFO’s defense costs. Please find news coverage here.


J.P.V., et al. v. R.W.D.,

No. C-1-PB-13-001133; in the Probate Court No. 1 of Travis County, Texas (2015):

The firm, with Joe Marrs as lead counsel, represented trust beneficiaries against their former trustee for breach of fiduciary duty.


D.L.B., et al. v. T. Corp., et al.,

Case No. 30-2012-00578962-CU-NP-CJC, in the Superior Court of Orange County, California (2014):

The firm, with Joe Marrs as lead counsel, represented minority shareholders in claims against the president and majority shareholder of a closely held corporation. After two years’ of litigation in California and Colorado state courts, JMEH’s clients recovered $1.2 million in cash and real estate ($800,000 net of attorneys’ fees).


Estate of S.M.P., Deceased,

No. C-1-PB-13-001037, in the Probate Court No. 1 of Travis County, Texas (2014):

JMEH represented a fortune 500 company in claims to recover assets and protect its interests in a significant estate dispute. The case resolved on confidential terms.


In re Estate of L.N.B.,

Deceased, No. 88PR283, in the Combined Court, Mesa County, Colorado (2014):

Joe Marrs, with the help of local counsel, represented contingent beneficiaries in a petition for appointment of a neutral trustee of a testamentary family trust. The petition was a key element of a greater effort to resolve claims to certain commercial property held by the testamentary trust in California. The claims resolved favorably at mediation for JMEH’s clients.


In re P.F.T.,

No. D-1-GN-13-002061, in the 126th District Court of Travis County, Texas (2013):

Joe Marrs represented trust beneficiaries first in a successful petition to appoint themselves co-trustees, and then against an intervening former trustee who sought to overturn their appointment as successor co-trustees of the trust on various grounds. Following a final judgment, then a second evidentiary hearing on the former trustee’s motion for new trial, the court upheld the judgment in favor of JMEH’s clients.


Estate of C.W.B., Deceased,

No. 06929, in the County Court of Llano County, Texas (2013):

Joe Marrs represented surviving children as will contestants against a caregiver/will beneficiary, alleging breach of fiduciary duty and lack of testamentary capacity. The case resolved favorably for JMEH’s clients, who received a share of the decedent’s Llano County ranch.


In Re P.F.T.,

in the 126th District Court of Travis County, Texas (2013):

The firm represented beneficiaries of a trust in claims against a trustee for day-trading and self-dealing, resulting in losses to the trust and damages exceeding $1.4 million. As a result of pre-suit negotiations, the trustee resigned and JMEH’s clients obtained a final judgment appointing themselves co-trustees in the Travis County District Court. The former trustee has appealed the judgment, and the claims for damages against the former trustee remain pending in the Travis County Probate Court.


B.S, C.S., & T.S. v. S.W. & J.K.,

In the 23rd Judicial District Court of Wharton County, Texas (2013):

JMEH represented a partner and trust beneficiary in claims for breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, and equitable dissolution of a rice farming partnership and termination of a testamentary trust. Closing seven years of litigation, including one failed settlement, the firm negotiated an agreed final judgment that dissolved the partnership, terminated the trust, and divided all assets on terms favorable to its client.


Estate of N.W.E.,

No. C-1-PB-11-000558 in the Probate Court No. 1 of Travis County, Texas; No. 76770 in the 354th District Court of Hunt County, Texas; Bankruptcy Case No. 10-36206-SGJ-13 In the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Texas, Dallas Division:

Joe Marrs represented the personal representative of a decedent’s estate in claims against the decedent’s former business agent for convincing the decedent to gift her 8 properties. Mr. Marrs’s client alleged that the transfers breached the agent’s fiduciary duty. After three years of complex litigation across four different courts, final judgment was entered canceling the deeds in question and returning all 8 properties in four different counties in Texas to the Estate.

_________ v. _________ [details confidential by agreement] (2012):

Joe Marrs and Chris Johns represented a business owner in DTPA and Insurance Code claims against an agency and carrier. The client alleged misrepresentation of property coverage. All claims settled three weeks prior to trial for $500,000 (net recovery to client $300,000).


In Re G.A.L. Living Trust,

No. D-1-GN-1-001084, In the 98th District Court, Travis County, Texas; No. C-1-PB-10-001106, In Probate Court No. 1 of Travis County, Texas; AAA Case No. 70 101 Y 00553 10 (2012):

Joe Marrs represented the prevailing beneficiary in a dispute concerning the management of an inter vivos revocable trust. Following a three-day arbitration and eight weeks’ deliberation, the three-member panel found that the trustee breached her fiduciary duty, breached the trust, and must disgorge wrongful enrichment and pay damages of over $200,000 to the trust and to Mr. Marrs’s client, including $128,000 in attorneys’ fees.


Singh v. Newman,

No. 1:2009-CV-00523 (W.D. Tex. 2011):

Representing a real-estate developer sued by investors alleging over $3 million in damages for securities fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, and other claims, Ryan Downton and Chris Johns successfully tried the case to a jury, which rendered a complete defense verdict.


Estate of F. E. M.,

No. C-1-PB-10-000626, In Probate Court No. 1 of Travis County, Texas:

Joe Marrs represented children defending their father’s will and real estate in a will contest and partnership dispute. The contestant—a friend and business partner of the decedent—offered medical testimony attempting to show the decedent lacked testamentary capacity or was unduly influenced to sign his last will. The contestant also made claims to the decedent’s real estate based upon a written partnership agreement. Shortly before trial, the court granted Mr. Marrs’s plenary motion for summary judgment, dismissing all of the contestant’s claims.


Manor v. Grady,

No. C-1-PB-07-016035, In Probate Court No. 1 of Travis County, Texas:

On a pro bono basis, Joe Marrs represented the heirs of a deceased victim of a reverse mortgage scam. The heirs sued to set aside a wrongful lien of $70,000 plus attorneys’ fees on their deceased father’s homestead. Mr. Marrs’s clients first obtained summary judgment setting aside the lien on Texas Constitutional grounds and then obtained judgment against the defendants for $50,000, including attorneys’ fees, costs of administration, and punitive damages.


In Re Estate of B.,

Cause No. 360,899, In Probate Court No. 1 of Harris County, Texas:

Joe Marrs defended the named executor of a will in a case where the decedent’s spouse challenged the executor’s qualifications as a fiduciary. In a bench trial, the court found the contestant’s claims meritless and appointed Mr. Marrs’s client to be the executor.