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In re Guardianship of Lillian P.
Wisconsin Court of Appeals
617 N.W.2d 849 (2000)
Due to Lillian P.’s advancing dementia, a circuit court declared Lillian legally incompetent and appointed Mely Arndt as Lillian’s guardian. At that time, Lillian lived in her own home with one of her sons, Lester P., and received home care. However, Lillian’s condition worsened, and Lillian was moved to a residential facility for better care, with occasional commitments to a hospital when her dementia made her physically dangerous. Lester continued to live in Lillian’s house. Because Lillian was in a guardianship, court approval was required to sell her house. Lester offered to buy Lillian’s house for $70,000 and hired attorney Patricia Cavey (defendant) to seek court approval of his offer. However, Lillian’s other sons and Arndt objected to Lester’s offer, claiming that the house was worth at least $90,000. The court appointed Vincent Guerrero (plaintiff) as Lillian’s guardian ad litem for the house-sale matter. The court also ordered Lester to pay rent for living in Lillian’s house. Lester did not comply with the order, and Arndt complained to the court about Lester’s alleged attempts to manipulate Lillian regarding the house issues. Ultimately, the court did not approve Lester’s $70,000 offer. Lillian’s house was placed on the open market, and a third-party buyer agreed to pay $115,000 for it. Before the court could approve the open-market offer, Cavey told the court that Lillian had hired Cavey to jointly represent Lillian and Lester in objecting to the open-market house sale. Cavey claimed that Lillian had waived any conflicts of interest in Cavey’s dual representation and that Lillian was objecting to the sale because she wanted to move back home. As Lillian’s representative for the house-sale matter, Guerrero moved to disqualify Cavey from representing Lillian due to Lillian’s and Lester’s conflicting interests in the house sale. A free-legal-services attorney offered to be Cavey’s co-counsel to watch Lillian’s interests. The court found that the co-counsel’s existence was sufficient to manage the potential conflict and denied the motion to disqualify Cavey. Guerrero appealed.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Roggensack, J.)
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