Sister-in-law accused of conversion in St. Clair County suit

By Kelly Holleran | Jun 25, 2013

A Swansea woman claims her sister-in-law kicked her off a beneficiary list, leaving her to inherit no money upon her brother’s death.

Bertha E. Boyer filed a lawsuit June 11 in St. Clair County Circuit Court against Birdie E. Stockman.

In her complaint, Boyer alleges her brother, Henry G. Stockman Jr., had money in three different funds upon his death. The money in these funds was supposed to go to Boyer, as stated in a transfer on death registration request Henry Stockman signed on Jan. 31, 2000, according to the complaint.

In 2005, Henry Stockman began to suffer from Alzheimer’s Disease and Birdie Stockman, his wife, began to handle his financial and business transactions for him, the suit states. At some similar point in time, Boyer was removed as the designated beneficiary of Henry Stockman’s funds and Birdie Stockman was named in her place, the complaint says.

Boyer claims Birdie Stockman had lied to her husband, telling him the original death registration requests were lost and that he would have to sign new documents, the lawsuit states. However, the requests had not really been misplaced, and Birdie Stockman instead induced her husband to name herself as his beneficiary, according to the complaint. In turn, Birdie Stockman received the money in the funds when her husband died, Boyer says.

“The assets were not transferred to plaintiff upon decedent’s death is contrary to the intentions of Decedent as reflected by his transfer on death beneficiary designations, his delivery of the original stock certificates to plaintiff, and his discussions with plaintiff,” the suit states.

Boyer alleges breach of fiduciary duty, fraud, tortuous interference with expectancy of gift and conversion against Birdie Stockman.

In her complaint, Boyer seeks a judgment equal to the amount in assets she would have received from her brother, plus unspecified punitive damages, attorney’s fees and other relief the court deems just.

William J. Niehoff, Laura E. Schrick and Beth K. Flowers of Mathis, Marifian and Richter in Belleville will be representing her.

St. Clair County Circuit Court case number: 13-L-291.

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