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Doyon v. Porter

United States District Court, D. New Hampshire

June 25, 2019

David W. Doyon
Joel R. Porter, Jr.


          Joseph A. DiClerico, Jr. United States Judge.

         David Doyon filed this action against his stepbrother, Joel Porter Jr. (“Porter Jr.”), alleging intentional interference with an inheritance (Count I) and unjust enrichment (Count II). Porter Jr. filed a motion to dismiss Count I for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Porter Jr. argues that New Hampshire does not recognize the tort of intentional interference with an inheritance. Doyon opposes dismissal.

         Standard of Review

         Porter Jr. answered the complaint before filing the motion to dismiss. Accordingly, the court will consider the motion under the standard for judgment on the pleadings. See, e.g., Weeks v. Five Bros. Mortg. Servs. & Securing, Inc., 2014 WL 1379335, at *3 (D.N.H. Apr. 9, 2014).

         A motion for a judgment on the pleadings is evaluated under the same standard as a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Diaz-Nieves v. United States, 858 F.3d 678, 689 (1st Cir. 2017); Grajales v. P.R. Ports Auth., 682 F.3d 40, 44 (1st Cir. 2012). Judgment on the pleadings, therefore, is appropriate if the facts from the pleadings, taken in the light most favorable to the nonmovant, fail to allege a plausible entitlement to relief. Perez-Acevedo v. Rivero-Cubano, 520 F.3d 26, 29 (1st Cir. 2008) (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-58 (2007)).


         As noted above, Doyon and Porter Jr. are stepbrothers. Doyon's mother, Bernadette Porter (“Bernadette”), was married to Porter Jr.'s father, Joel Porter Sr. (“Porter Sr.”). Doyon lives in Arizona, and Porter Jr. lives in California.

         On March 15, 2018, Bernadette and Porter Sr. met with Attorney Virginia Sheehan in Concord, New Hampshire, to prepare an estate plan. At that time, Bernadette and Porter Sr. had cash and financial assets worth $1, 063, 200 (the “Financial Assets”) and joint ownership of property located in Port Charlotte, Florida (the “Florida Property”). Porter Sr., alone, owned property in Raymond and Epping, New Hampshire (the “Raymond Property” and the “Epping Property”). Bernadette, alone, owned property in Hooksett, New Hampshire (the “Hooksett Property”). Bernadette and Porter Sr. resided together at the Hooksett Property. This property together comprised Bernadette and Porter Sr.'s marital estate.

         According to Doyon's allegations, on March 15, 2018, Bernadette and Porter Sr. agreed on a “mutual and reciprocal scheme of distribution” of their marital estate. Doc. 1 (“Compl.”) ¶ 17. The plan was as follows: (1) upon Porter Sr.'s death, the Raymond and Epping Properties would pass to his son, Porter Jr.; (2) upon Bernadette's death, the Hooksett Property would pass to her son, Doyon, but Porter Sr. would retain a life estate in the property if he survived Bernadette; (3) the remaining marital assets (i.e., the Financial Assets and the Florida Property) would pass to the surviving spouse; and (4) upon the death of the surviving spouse, the Financial Assets and the Florida Property would be divided equally between Porter Jr. and Doyon. However, Porter Sr. and Bernadette did not sign documents effectuating the entire inheritance plan at that time.

         Sometime between March 20, 2018, and April 2, 2018, Porter Jr. and his wife Martina Porter began residing with Porter Sr. and Bernadette in Hooksett. On April 2, 2018, Bernadette, Porter Sr., Porter Jr., and Martina Porter met with Attorney Sheehan to review and execute the documents to effectuate the inheritance plan. Porter Jr. and Martina were asked to leave while Porter Sr. and Bernadette reviewed and signed the documents.

         Attorney Sheehan told the group that Bernadette's and Porter Sr.'s living wills had been executed and that Bernadette had executed her will. Porter Sr., however, was “having some difficulty by the time [Attorney Sheehan] sought to have him execute his will.” Compl. ¶ 20. Because they had covered a lot of material, Attorney Sheehan felt that Porter Sr. needed to rest and come back at another time to execute his will.

         Porter Jr. agreed to call Attorney Sheehan to schedule a follow up appointment for Porter Sr. Porter Jr., however, did not schedule a follow up appointment, although Attorney Sheehan reached out to Porter Jr. on several occasions.

         Bernadette died on April 19, 2018, due to complications from surgery. Porter Jr. and Martina continued to live with Porter Sr. in Hooksett while deciding whether Porter Sr. should relocate to California to live with them.

         Bernadette had appointed Porter Sr. as her executor in her will, with Porter Jr. and Doyon to serve as alternates. Porter Jr., Doyon, and Attorney Sheehan determined that Porter Jr. and Doyon should serve as co-executors, and a New ...

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