ANGELA GIGUERE KUMBLE f/k/a ANGELA GIGUERE and CHRISTINE TELLEFSEN f/k/a CHRISTINE GIGUERE-CARROZZA, Plaintiffs,
MICHAEL VOCCOLA and DANIEL SHEDD, Defendants. MICHAEL A. VOCCOLA and DANIEL S. SHEDD, in their capacity as Trustees of the Trust Under Will of Frederick Carrozza Jr., and MICHAEL A. VOCCOLA, in his capacity as Executor of the Estate of Frederick Carrozza Jr., Plaintiffs,
ANGELA GIGUERE KUMBLE, f/k/a ANGELA GIGUERE and CHRISTINE TELLEFSEN f/k/a CHRISTINE GIGUERE-CARROZZA, Defendants.
County Superior Court
Plaintiff: Mark W. Freel, Esq.; Alan I. Baron, Esq.
Defendant: Robert M. Duffy, Esq.
before the Court is a dispute involving the Beneficiaries of
a testamentary instrument and the fiduciaries appointed to
oversee its execution. The parties to these consolidated
matters participated in a bench trial, during which they
offered evidence concerning the amount of compensation owed
to the fiduciaries, as well as the reasonableness of the
fiduciaries' requests for reimbursement for legal fees
incurred in their capacity as fiduciaries. This Court has
jurisdiction over the subject matter of the dispute under
G.L. 1956 § 8-2-13. Pursuant to Super. R. Civ. P. 52(a),
the Court now states its findings of fact and conclusions of
law regarding the above-mentioned issues.
Findings of Fact
Frederick Carrozza Jr. (Carrozza Jr.) established the
Frederick Carrozza Jr. Testamentary Trust Under Will for the
benefit of his widow, Angela Kumble (A. Kumble), and his
daughter, Christine Tellefsen (Tellefsen) (collectively, the
trust was established in part to prevent Carrozza Jr.'s
father, Frederick Carrozza Sr., from obtaining control of the
assets of Carrozza Jr.
Carrozza Jr. chose two of his longtime friends, Michael
Voccola (Voccola) and Daniel Shedd (Shedd) (collectively, the
Trustees), to serve as co-trustees with respect to the trust.
Prior to being chosen, Voccola had no experience acting as a
trustee. 5. Voccola was also appointed by Carrozza Jr. as
Executor of the latter's estate.
Voccola graduated from law school in 1997, but is not
licensed to practice law in the State of Rhode Island.
While serving as a fiduciary, Voccola held a position as a
Vice President at a real estate investment and management
company known as The Procaccianti Group.
Under the terms of the trust, the Trustees were required to
pay to A. Kumble and Tellefsen "so much of the net
income arising from the trust estate as [the Trustees] shall
deem advisable in all the circumstances for the health,
maintenance, and support of [A. Kumble and Tellefsen], or for
the welfare in other respects of my said wife, [A.
A. Kumble's passing, the trust estate was to be
distributed to Tellefsen, if Tellefsen had then reached the
age of thirty-two.
their services to the Beneficiaries, the Trustees were to
receive "reasonable compensation."
August 19, 2002, Carrozza Jr. died. At the time of his death,
Carrozza Jr. was the owner of the following properties, all
of which became part of the trust estate: a mixed-use
building and an adjacent parking lot located on Bellevue
Avenue in Newport (the Bellevue Avenue Property); a
condominium unit on Canary Court in West Warwick (Canary
Court); and a commercial property housing a rental car
facility on Post Road in Warwick (the Post Road Property)
(collectively, the Trust Properties).
Prior to Carrozza Jr.'s death, A. Kumble and Tellefsen,
who are both licensed real estate brokers, had been involved
in management of what became the Trust Properties.
Voccola deemed it prudent to allow A. Kumble and Tellefsen to
continue to act as managers of the Trust Properties
"given the historical nature of [A. Kumble and
Tellefsen]'s management of the properties, and knowledge
of the real estate, and knowledge of the vendors, and
knowledge of the tenants and the rents, etc." Trial Tr.
Neither Voccola nor Shedd possessed keys to the Trust
Voccola interacted with certain tenants of the Trust
Properties. For example, he served as the "primary
liaison" with respect to the Post Road Property tenant.
Tellefsen was paid for services she provided as a manager of
the Trust Properties.
property managers, A. Kumble and Tellefsen collected rents,
handled routine repairs and maintenance, interacted with
tenants, and paid bills and expenses.
Kumble communicated regularly with Voccola regarding the
Tellefsen testified that Voccola provided assistance to her
and A. Kumble concerning the Trust Properties when asked to
Voccola maintained no contemporaneous time records evidencing
the scope of his participation with respect to the management
of the Trust Properties.
Shedd, who occasionally acted as a consultant to Voccola, had
minimal involvement with the trust and the Beneficiaries.
Funds related to the trust and the Trust Properties were held
in a Fleet Bank account that bore Carrozza Jr.'s name and
which had existed prior to his death.
Trustees had no signatory authority with respect to the Fleet
Bank account and could not withdraw money from it.
Funds withdrawn from the Fleet Bank Account were withdrawn by
Executor, Voccola filed Carrozza Jr.'s will in the
Probate Court of Middletown, Rhode Island. 26.Voccola took
part in the process of resolving claims against the Estate.
Voccola marshaled the assets of the Estate and arranged for
certain Estate assets to be appraised.
Voccola disposed of certain assets of the Estate to create
liquidity for the Beneficiaries. For example, Voccola, with
assistance from A. Kumble, coordinated the purchase by a
third party of property located on Atwells Avenue in
Providence, Rhode Island.
Voccola notified Fleet Bank of his appointment as the
Executor of Carrozza Jr.'s Estate.
a fiduciary, Voccola reviewed and signed tax returns prepared
by an accountant on behalf of the trust and the Estate.
Voccola also engaged an attorney for the purposes of
obtaining a reduced tax assessment with respect to the
Bellevue Avenue Property in 2009.
2004, Voccola acted in his fiduciary capacity as trustee to
contest a finding by the Newport Fire Department of a fire
code violation at the Bellevue Avenue Property.
Voccola did not maintain contemporaneous records detailing
the tasks he performed as Executor or the amount of time he
spent completing those tasks.
Voccola did preserve emails and other documents produced in
the course of the performance of his duties as Executor.
After reviewing the preserved emails and documents, Voccola
concluded that he had worked 179 hours in his capacity as
determination was not requested of and has not been made by
the probate court as to the amount of compensation to which
Voccola as Executor is entitled.
Shortly after Carrozza Jr.'s death, Carrozza Jr.'s
father, Frederick Carrozza Sr. (Carrozza Sr.), and other
members of the Carrozza family filed a lawsuit against the
Executor of Carrozza Jr.'s Estate, as well as the
Beneficiaries. Carrozza Sr. and his co-plaintiffs also filed
notices of lis pendens with respect to the Trust
objective of the lawsuit Carrozza Sr. filed was to have a
resulting trust imposed on the Trust Properties.
Carrozza Sr.'s other children-Phillip Carrozza, Freida
Carrozza, and Laurie Carrozza-Conn-joined him as plaintiffs
in that lawsuit.
Voccola and the Beneficiaries filed a counterclaim against
Carrozza Sr. and his co-plaintiffs for slander of title.
Attorney Evan Leviss was hired to defend both Carrozza
Jr.'s Estate and the Beneficiaries against the claims
brought by Carrozza Sr. and his co-plaintiffs.
A. Kumble's suggestion, Attorney Alan Baron, an
out-of-state attorney, was retained to represent the
interests of the Beneficiaries in the litigation.
Attorneys Leviss and Baron communicated frequently with one
another and with Voccola regarding the matter.
Ultimately, the claims brought by Carrozza Sr. and his
co-plaintiffs were dismissed.
Following trial, the Newport Superior Court entered a $2.5
million judgment, including a punitive damages award of $845,