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In re Trusteeship of Williams

Minnesota Court of Appeals
591 N.W.2d 743 (1999)


Facts

James Williams’s will created a trust with Robert Williams (plaintiff), Margaret Linstroth, and Norwest Bank Minnesota (Norwest) (defendant) as trustees. As of 1980, stock in Borden, Inc. composed almost 100 percent of the trust’s value. By 1989, the trustees had sold approximately 60 percent of the Borden stock in order to diversify the trust’s assets. Robert moved to sell more Borden stock, but Linstroth and Norwest overruled him by majority vote. Thereafter, the value of the Borden stock declined significantly. In 1996, Linstroth and Norwest filed a petition seeking court approval of their handling of the trust’s assets from 1990 to 1995. Robert objected to the petition and filed a claim for imposition of a surcharge on Norwest, claiming that as corporate trustee Norwest was accountable for the loss in the trust’s value. Norwest argued that an exculpatory clause in the will shielded Norwest from any liability as trustee. The clause stated that a trustee would not be liable for the acts of another trustee, or for any good faith errors in judgment. The district court dismissed Robert’s surcharge claim. Robert appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Huspeni, J.)

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