Ex parte C.B. Grant, as administrator of the Estate of Phillip Frazier, deceased; In re: C.B. Grant, as administrator of the Estate of Phillip Frazier, deceased
Wiley Sanders Truck Lines, Inc., et al.
Montgomery Circuit Court, CV-13-901245. Charles Price, Trial Judge.
PETITION GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED IN PART; WRIT ISSUED.
For Petitioner: Charles A. Dauphin, Dauphin Paris LLC, Birmingham; J.D. Ruffin, Fort Deposit.
For Respondent: Michael G. Strickland, Strickland & Kendall, LLC, Montgomery, for Mitarazza Davis.
Moore, C.J., and Bolin, Murdock, and Main, JJ., concur.
PETITION FOR WRIT OF MANDAMUS
C.B. Grant, the administrator of the estate of Phillip Frazier, deceased, filed this wrongful-death action in the Montgomery Circuit Court. Mitarazza Davis, Frazier's widow, moved to intervene in the lawsuit, alleging that Grant had secured his appointment as administrator of the estate through fraud and requesting that the wrongful-death action be stayed pending the resolution of the dispute over the administration of the estate by the Lowndes Probate Court. The Montgomery Circuit Court entered an order declaring Grant's appointment as administrator of the estate void and declaring Davis to be the rightful party to serve as administrator of the estate. The Montgomery Circuit Court stayed the wrongful-death action pending the Lowndes Probate Court's appointment of Davis as the administrator of Frazier's estate. Grant petitions this Court for a writ of mandamus directing the Montgomery Circuit Court to vacate its order and to lift the stay. We grant the petition in part and deny it in part.
Facts and Procedural History
Frazier, a resident of Lowndes County, died in a traffic accident on June 9, 2013.
Frazier's father, C.B. Grant, petitioned the Lowndes Probate Court for letters of administration. With his petition, Grant filed a " Waiver of Notice and Consent of Appointment of Administrator" purportedly executed by Davis. The Lowndes Probate Court granted letters of administration to Grant on June 14, 2013.
On December 24, 2013, Grant, as administrator of Frazier's estate, filed a wrongful-death action in the Montgomery Circuit Court against Wiley Sanders Truck Lines, Inc., Ronald Herbst, and several fictitiously named defendants, alleging that their negligence and wantonness caused the accident resulting in Frazier's death. On March 14, 2014, Davis filed a motion to intervene in the wrongful-death action. In her motion, Davis asserted that Grant had secured his appointment as administrator of Frazier's estate through fraud and informed the court that she had petitioned the Lowndes Probate Court to void Grant's appointment as administrator of Frazier's estate and to appoint her as administrator. Davis also moved the Montgomery Circuit Court to stay the wrongful-death action pending resolution of the petition filed in the Lowndes Probate Court. Grant opposed the motion to intervene and the motion to stay the wrongful-death action.
On April 9, 2014, the Montgomery Circuit Court conducted an evidentiary hearing on Davis's motions to intervene and to stay. The court took testimony from witnesses, including Davis, Grant, several of Frazier's family members, and a handwriting expert. On ...