Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District, Cuyahoga
BRADLEY A. WYNVEEN PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE
JOSEPH G. CORSARO DEFENDANT-APPELLANT
Appeal from the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Probate
Division Case No. 2016-ADV-217089
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT Steven B. Beranek.
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEES For Bradley A. Wynveen, Adam M. Fried
Holly M. Wilson Reminger Co., L.P.A.
Christine Wynveen, Natural Guardian of Kelly A. Wynveen, and
Christine Wynveen, individually, Douglas A. Dipalma Cavitch,
Familo & Durkin Co., L.P.A.
Guardian Ad Litem for Kelly A. Wynveen Michael R. Gareau, Jr.
Joseph G. Corsaro, Executor of the Estate of Richard A.
Wynveen Shane A. Lawson Monica A. Sansalone Gallagher Sharp,
Joseph G. Corsaro, Trustee of the Bradley A. Wynveen
Irrevocable Trust Shane A. Lawson Gallagher Sharp, L.L.P.
Ohio Attorney General's Office Mike DeWine Ohio Attorney
General Todd K. Deboe Assistant Attorney General.
Natalie L. Wynveen Egidijus K. Marcinkevicius A. Sirvaitis
BEFORE: Boyle, J., E.T. Gallagher, P.J., and Blackmon, J.
JOURNAL ENTRY AND OPINION
J. BOYLE, JUDGE.
Defendant-appellant, Joseph G. Corsaro, appeals from the
trial court's order disqualifying his counsel, Attorney
Steven B. Beranek, in relation to his counterclaim against
plaintiff-appellee, Bradley A. Wynveen ("Bradley").
He raises one assignment of error for our review:
Did the Trial Court abuse its discretion when it disqualified
Attorney Steven Beranek from continuing to represent Joseph
G. Corsaro, as Trustee of the Bradley A. Wynveen Irrevocable
Trust, with regard to the counterclaim filed in the action
For the reasons that follow, we affirm.
Procedural History and Factual Background
Corsaro & Associates' Prior Representations of the
Corsaro is the founder and senior managing partner of Corsaro
& Associates Co., L.P.A. and has been a practicing
attorney, specializing in federal tax law, for over 30 years.
One of Corsaro's clients was Dr. Richard A. Wynveen
("Dr. Wynveen"), who Corsaro represented in
numerous matters and dealings for over 20 years. During his
representations, Corsaro helped Dr. Wynveen establish the
Richard A. Wynveen Revocable Trust ("RAW"), the
Bradley A. Wynveen Irrevocable Trust ("BAW Trust"),
and the Jeffrey C. Wynveen Irrevocable Trust ("JCW
Trust"), organize numerous business entities, and plan
In addition to his services for Dr. Wynveen, Corsaro, as well
as other members of Corsaro & Associates, offered legal
assistance to Bradley, providing estate planning and
representation for matters concerning property owned by
Bradley and the BAW Trust. Further, attorneys from Corsaro
& Associates helped organize, establish, and continue to
maintain the Wynveen Family Foundation, preparing the
foundation's tax returns. Bradley was designated as one
of the trustees for the foundation and was expected to
receive money from the foundation at some unspecified point
in the future. Also, through August 2015, the firm provided
legal services for Gainwell Limited Partnership, of which
Bradley is part owner.
On April 1, 2013, Dr. Wynveen passed away and was survived by
his two sons, Bradley and Jeffrey C. Wynveen ("Jeffrey).
Two and one-half months later, Jeffrey also passed away.
Prior to his passing, Dr. Wynveen appointed Corsaro as
trustee of the RAW, BAW, and JCW trusts. In addition,
according to the terms of Dr. Wynveen's will, Corsaro was
named the executor of Dr. Wynveen's estate.
The Current Lawsuit and Counterclaim
As part of his duties as executor of Dr. Wynveen's
estate, Corsaro was responsible for paying $2, 000, 000 of
estate tax due upon Dr. Wynveen's death. To do so,
Corsaro decided to convert and collect assets owned by the
estate, including debts owed by Bradley personally and as a
partner in Gainwell Limited Partnership. Specifically, the
debts allegedly included (1) a $100, 000 loan (plus interest)
from Dr. Wynveen to Bradley; (2) $338, 000 in estate taxes
derived from loans from Dr. Wynveen's estate to Bradley
for the purchase of real property; and (3) Bradley's
share of debt owed to the estate by Gainwell Limited
Partnership. Bradley refused to pay those debts, however,
disputing that he was responsible for them. As a result,
Corsaro, the trustee of the BAW Trust, used funds from the
BAW Trust to pay off the debts owed to the estate.
Subsequently, on June 15, 2016, Bradley filed a complaint in
the court of common pleas, probate division, against a number
of defendants, including Corsaro, who was sued individually,
as executor of the estate of Richard A. Wynveen, and as
trustee of both the RAW and BAW trusts. The complaint also
identified the Wynveen Family Foundation as a defendant.
Bradley set forth six counts in his complaint, which were
related to the administration of the BAW trust, RAW trust,
Richard A. Wynveen's estate, and other business interests
related to those trusts. Among other relief, the complaint
sought the removal of Corsaro as trustee for the RAW and BAW
trusts, trust and estate accountings, disgorgement of
excessive attorney fees billed by Corsaro & Associates
and fiduciary fees, surcharges, damages, and attorney fees.
On September 14, 2016, Corsaro, in all of his capacities,
filed an answer as well as a counterclaim against Bradley,
seeking recovery of debts owed by Bradley to the BAW trust
and Richard A. Wynveen's estate. Attorney Beranek, who
works for Corsaro's law firm, Corsaro & Associates,
represented Corsaro on his counterclaim and as trustee of the
BAW trust. Attorney Beranek also filed a notice of appearance
on behalf of the Wynveen Family Foundation; however, Attorney
Beranek later filed a motion to withdraw as counsel for the
foundation. Corsaro retained separate counsel to defend
himself against the counts alleged in Bradley's
On December 2, 2016, Bradley filed a motion to disqualify
Attorney Beranek based on Corsaro & Associates' prior
representations of Bradley and his family members. On
February 13, 2017, the probate court, without a hearing,
granted Bradley's motion to disqualify Attorney Beranek.
In its judgment entry ...