Houston Jury Rules for NASA Widow, Awards $1.66 Million

May 18, 2023 | Client Results

Jackson Walker Prevails for Wife of Astronaut Alan Bean

A Harris County probate court jury has awarded Leslie Bean and the estate of her husband, NASA astronaut Alan Bean, $1.66 million in damages for counterclaims asserted against Amy Bean, Alan Bean’s daughter from a prior marriage, for her improper conduct as a co-executor of Alan’s estate.

The jury confirmed that all of the items Leslie Bean claimed were gifted to her during her 36-year marriage to Alan Bean, including certain space items, were Leslie’s property – despite Amy Bean’s challenge to such items. On the other hand, the jurors found other space items should be distributed to trusts established by Alan Bean for the benefit of his two children, including Amy Bean.

The jury found Amy Bean, in her role as co-executor of Alan’s estate, breached her fiduciary duties to Leslie Bean, including findings that Amy Bean acted with bad faith, malice, gross negligence and committed fraud. For the breaches of fiduciary duty, the jury awarded $600,000 in actual damages and $363,636 in exemplary damages to Leslie Bean.

The jury also found Amy Bean is wrongfully holding estate assets and awarded the estate $700,000. It also found that Leslie Bean breached some of her fiduciary duties, but the jury was clear that Leslie Bean acted in good faith and therefore awarded zero damages against her. This was a complete defense verdict for the claims asserted against Leslie Bean.

“This is a big win for Leslie Bean as she works to make certain her husband’s life and work be honored and that Amy Bean is held accountable for her improper actions over the last five years,” said Jackson Walker partner Sarah Patel Pacheco, who represented Mrs. Bean at trial with fellow partner Joshua R. Flores.

Alan Bean, the fourth man to walk on the moon, died May 26, 2018. The two-week trial centered around the interpretation of the last will and testament of Alan Bean and the corresponding administration of his estate, including claims of breach of fiduciary duty against both of the co-executors for their roles in the administration of Alan Bean’s estate.

The case number is 467316-401 in Harris County Probate Court 2.

For news coverage of the case, see “Litigation Roundup: Kinder Morgan Prevails at SCOTX, LG Chem Does Not” by The Texas Lawbook (subscription may be required).

Meet Our Team

Sarah Patel PachecoSarah Patel Pacheco focuses on fiduciary litigation; probate, trust, and guardianship administration; and general litigation. A board-certified estate planning and probate lawyer, she offers experienced counsel related to controversies that involve fiduciary duties, trustees, executors, including will contests, will and trust interpretation issues, accounting and administration issues, prosecution and defense of fiduciary claims, and representation of creditors in probate and trust proceedings. Sarah co-authored three legal treatises and is a former chair the Texas Board of Legal Specialization’s Estate Planning and Probate Law Exam Commission and former member of the Texas Pattern Jury Charges Committee. Since 2007, she has been recognized among The Best Lawyers in America, and she was named the Lawyer of the Year in Houston in the area of Litigation – Trusts and Estates for three years—2014, 2017, and 2021. she has also been named a Texas Super Lawyer by Thomson Reuters’ Super Lawyers since 2004, ranking among its lists of the top 50 women in Texas and the top 100 Super Lawyers in Houston for several years, including 2021.

Josh FloresJoshua R. Flores focuses on fiduciary litigation and general business litigation. He primarily counsels clients on various fiduciary matters, including will contests, will and trust interpretation issues, probate and trust administration, and guardianship proceedings. Josh also handles business and fiduciary disputes between partners, company members, and shareholders, as well as other civil litigation matters. He has been named among the Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch since 2021 in the areas of Litigation – Trusts and Estates, Commercial Litigation, and Elder Law. He has also been recognized as a “Texas Rising Star” by Thomson Reuters’ Super Lawyers since 2017. This marks the second consecutive year that Josh has been named to the “Up-and-Coming 100: Texas Rising Stars” list.

Meet JW

Since 1887, Jackson Walker has grown to become a full-service national firm serving clients from six Texas offices. With about 30% of the firm’s approximately 500 attorneys practicing litigation, our firm has one of the largest trial practices in the Southwest and has been identified among the top law firms “Most Feared in Litigation” by BTI Consulting Group in 2022 and 2023 for demonstrating a “fearless nature, urgency, relentlessness, and an aggressive strategy.” To explore Jackson Walker’s experience handling will contests, trust and fiduciary litigation, and other matters involving contested issues in the administration of estates and trusts in state and federal courts in Texas and beyond, visit the Trial & Appellate Litigation and Trusts & Estates practice pages.