Attorneys in Jackson Walker’s Dallas office and the office of Allen B. Mann & Associates, P.C. announced the conclusion of settlement in the highly publicized Simmons Family Trust trial. On Tuesday, February 10, the Honorable Nikki DeShazo of Probate Court #1 of Dallas County approved the terms of settlement concluding the family’s internal battle for control over two family trusts. The transactions finalizing the settlement were completed the following day. The conditions of the settlement include a total of over $50 million for Andrea Simmons Swanson and her lineal descendants.
The resolution of the settlement pleased Ms. Swanson, who achieved her goal of financial independence. Mark T. Josephs, John L. Lancaster, III, and John J. Klein, partners in Jackson Walker’s Dallas office, represented Ms. Swanson. They were assisted by associates Kyle McElroy and Rakhee Patel. Mr. Mann’s firm was of counsel to Ms. Swanson. Commenting on this suit, Mr. Josephs said: “This case represented a tremendous challenge for our trial team and the law firm as a whole. From the beginning of discovery through the finalization of settlement, lawyers from the firm’s trust, tax, corporate, and trial sections have worked together to reach a resolution that is very favorable to our client. Without this team effort, we would never have been able to gather, assimilate, and analyze the 34 years of corporate and trust history that were the subject of the trial in the short period of time available to prepare the case.”
In the case, Ms. Swanson and Scheryle Simmons Patigian, two of Harold C. Simmons’ daughters from a previous marriage, had sought removal of Mr. Simmons as Trustee of the Simmons Family Trusts which together own virtually all of the stock of Contran Corporation, a holding company for Mr. Simmons’ corporate empire. Originally, Mr. Simmons filed suit in January of 1996 asking his daughters to disclaim their interests in one of two family trusts whose combined value exceeds $1 billion. The two daughters filed claims for accountings of the trusts’ activities and later sued Mr. Simmons for breach of fiduciary duties. The case was tried for eight weeks last fall, after which the jury found breaches of fiduciary duty but deadlocked on other issues necessary to dispose of all of the claims. The settlement was concluded after over seven weeks of intensive negotiations.
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