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In re Estate of Chiappa

SUPERIOR COURT OF NEW JERSEY APPELLATE DIVISION


September 9, 2008

IN THE MATTER OF THE ESTATE OF MARY A. CHIAPPA, DECEASED.

On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Morris County, Docket No. P-0501-06.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted August 20, 2008

Before Judges A. A. Rodríguez and Lihotz.

This is the second time that this matter comes before us. Donald Chiappe, the Executor of the Estate of his late mother, Mary A. Chiappa, appealed from the judgment of the Chancery Division, Probate Part, enforcing a settlement agreement between the Estate and James K. Pryor, the guardian appointed by the court for Chiappa during a period of incompetence prior to her death. The Estate sued Pryor alleging misappropriation and mismanagement of the decedent's assets. That lawsuit was settled. Chiappe denied that he authorized his attorney to negotiate a settlement or that he approved the terms of such a settlement. We reversed and remanded for an evidentiary hearing to determine whether Chiappe: (1) authorized his attorney to enter into settlement on October 30, 2002; and (2) approved the terms of the settlement. In re Estate of Chippa, No. A-0881- 03T2 (App. Div. October 26, 2005).

On remand, Judge Catherine M. Langlois found that on October 23 and 30, 2002, Chiappe gave his attorney the authority to enter into settlement. In a written opinion, the judge concluded:

In conclusion, all of the circumstances on, and from, October 23, 2002 justify the attorneys acting with authority to proceed in settlement on behalf of Mr. Chiappe. He authorized [his attorney] to settle the case on October 30, 2002 and he approved settlement terms both orally by telephone that day and by his silence for over five months. His long writing in April 2003, over five months after authorizing settlement, expressed a layman's afterthoughts and no more.

On appeal, Chiappe raises the same objections that were rejected by the judge. In essence, he challenges the judge's findings of fact. From our review of the record, we conclude that the findings of fact by the judge are adequately supported by the evidence. Therefore, we affirm the judgment, based on those findings. R. 2:11-3(e)(1)(A). Moreover, we agree with the reasons expressed by Judge Langlois in her February 16, 2007 written decision.

Affirmed.

20080909

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