Court of Appeals of Ohio, Twelfth District, Warren
FROM WARREN COUNTY COURT OF COMMON PLEAS PROBATE DIVISION
Case No. 20141486.01
Harrison Green, Executive Park, for plaintiffs-appellants.
W. Hust, Socialville-Foster Road, for defendant-appellee,
Maureen Callinan and Maureen Callinan as Fiduciary for Estate
of Victoria Arnold.
Benjamin M. Rodriguez, for defendants-appellees/third-party
plaintiffs, Mark Charnay and Elvira Charnay.
1} Plaintiffs-appellants, Rachel Hodge and Danielle
Arnold, appeal from the decision of the Warren County Court
of Common Pleas, Probate Division, granting a declaratory
judgment to defendants-appellees, Mark and Elvira Charnay.
For the reasons outlined below, we affirm the decision of the
2} The present case arises from a complaint filed by
appellants on March 31, 2016 and amended on April 15, 2016,
in the general division of the Warren County Court of Common
Pleas. The amended complaint alleged claims of breach of
fiduciary duty and legal malpractice against Maureen
Callinan, the administrator of the estate at issue, and a
quiet title claim against appellees. On September 19, 2016,
the general division transferred the case to the probate
division. Appellees answered the amended complaint and filed
a counterclaim against appellants, a cross-claim against
Callinan, and a third-party complaint against the estate. The
relevant underlying issues in this appeal concern the estate
administration of decedent, Victoria Arnold
3} On August 18, 2013, Victoria Arnold died leaving
three heirs, appellants and non-party, Sarah Schaeper. The
sole asset in Arnold's Estate was a residence located in
Warren County. Victoria owned an undivided one-half interest
in the property and her brother, Dennis Brooks, owned the
other one-half interest. Appellants allege Brooks hired
Callinan as the attorney for Arnold's Estate without
their knowledge or consent. Callinan was also the
administrator of Arnold's Estate by appointment of the
4} Appellants' amended complaint alleges that on
or around December 1, 2014, Callinan listed the property for
sale for $180, 000 and cited Brooks as the only party having
an ownership interest in the property. In support of the list
price, Callinan submitted to the probate court the 2014
auditor's tax assessment. However, appellants assert that
in January 2015 a newer assessment was completed, which
valued the property at $176, 110. Appellants' amended
complaint alleges an offer for the property was made and
accepted in December 2014, but the sale was not completed due
to financing issues with the prospective purchaser.
Appellants contend Callinan failed to communicate this
information to them and that appellants discovered it online.
5} In January 2015, appellees submitted an offer of
$160, 000, which Callinan accepted on behalf of Arnold's
Estate. Appellants allege that despite their exhaustive
efforts, they were unable to obtain information from Callinan
regarding the sale and had to read the details of the sale
online. Appellants further assert that in the time between
acceptance of appellees' offer and the closing on
February 26, 2015, other nearby properties sold for amounts
between $197, 000 and $226, 000. Title to the property from
Arnold's Estate transferred to appellees on the same date
as closing. On March 13, 2015, the probate court approved the
estate inventory, valuing the property at $163, 060.
Appellants did not object to the inventory.
6} Appellants allege that beginning in April 2015,
they had trouble communicating with Callinan regarding a
final accounting for Arnold's Estate. Appellants further
allege they visited Callinan's office on June 1, 2015
where "Callinan held their checks in the air and told
them if they wanted the money they would need to sign consent
forms [to sell the property] before she would disburse the
funds." In turn, Brooks and appellants signed the
consent forms to sell the property, which Callinan filed with
the probate court the next day. Arnold's Estate
distributed the net proceeds from the sale to the heirs.
Following Callinan's filing of the final account,
appellants filed exceptions to the final account. The probate
court held hearings on the exceptions in November 2015 and
February 2016, and scheduled a third hearing on May 2, 2016.
7} On May 19, 2017, appellees moved for declaratory
judgment to declare the rights of all parties as to their
interests in the property appellees purchased from
Arnold's Estate. On June 20, 2017, the probate court
granted appellees' motion for declaratory judgment and
entered a final appealable order.
8} Appellants timely appealed the decision of the